Design House: Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969)

Designer: Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942)

Date: fall/winter 2001–2

Culture: French

Medium: a) rayon, cotton, plastic; b) rayon, metal; c) cotton, elasticine blend

Credit Line: Gift of Comme des Garçons, 2004

Accession Number: 2004.188a–c


Part of the "Beyond Taboo" collection, this ensemble by Rei Kawakubo references a brassiere from the 1950s, the period of the bust's most highly eroticized focus. However, Kawakubo cites its least provocative form, the long-line, and she fashions her design in a cotton voided velvet fabric that situates it as outerwear. The long-line was originally intended to provide greater support for women with larger breasts, the ostensible period ideal. But the detailing was more orthopedic than sexy, and Kawakubo stresses this practicality in her version. When she transposes the brassiere to the rear, however, her critique of the sexist equivalence of the cleavage of breasts to that of the buttocks flirts dangerously with a reinvestment of the erotic to the garment.