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Chris Marker + Comme des Garçons

Melissa Starker, Creative Content & PR Manager

Dec 29, 2021

A winter 2021 photography installation by Rei Kawakubo outside the New York Comme des Garcons boutique, featuring work by Chris Marker

About a year ago, the Wex fielded an exciting message from Adrian Joffe, president of the fashion label Comme des Garçons and husband of its founder, designer Rei Kawakubo. Kawakubo was working on a year-long project about artist Chris Marker, "whose relevance has never been more acute than right now," Joffe noted. Specifically, the designer was interested in utilizing images featured in the landmark 2007 exhibition organized by Wex Curator-at-Large Bill Horrigan, Chris Marker: Staring Back.

"Rei had seen and liked the book, and wanted to do something with it," Horrigan explains. 

"I came to the conclusion that the only sensible weapon against the cops could be a film camera. Not that glorious but, at times, efficient ... And that was a turning point in my 'career' (that despicable word). In another time I guess I would have been content with filming girls and cats. But you don't choose your time."
Chris Marker
Cover of 2021 Comme des Garçons catalogue featuring image by Chris Marker

Comme des Garçons Spring-Summer 2021 catalogue

Drawing out the parallels between the global rise in activism over the past two years and what Marker captured as visual chronicler of the student uprisings in 1960s Paris, Kawakubo and team produced a series of catalogues in 2021 for Comme's seasonal collections. The limited-edition print pieces not only feature a wealth of images presented in the Wex exhibition, they take clear direction from the look of the show's catalogue, designed by M. Christopher Jones, and use a number of Marker quotes assembled for the book (including the one above).

Cover of 2021 Comme des Garçons catalogue featuring image by Chris Marker

Home page, comme-des-garcons.com

Although the catalogues can be hard to come by (most public copies were distributed in Japan and they're selling at a premium on eBay), the presence of Marker's work in the fashion house's marketing is practically inescapable right now. Anyone visiting comme-des-garcons.com will find a diptych of Marker portraits on the home page. And recently, Kawakubo debuted a physical installation around the artist's work to cover the façade of Comme des Garcon's Chelsea boutique, along with companion installations for the designer's Dover Street Market locations in New York and London.

A winter 2021 photography installation by Rei Kawakubo outside the New York Comme des Garcons boutique, featuring work by Chris Marker

Above and top of page: exterior of Comme des Garçon's Chelsea boutique; photos: Molly Nesbit 

"I talked to some friends, mainly [writer, educator, and fellow friend of Marker's] Molly Nesbit, about how Chris would feel about this," Horrigan notes. "Given that it’s really noncommercial and non-mercantile, and given his affinity for Japan, I think he’d be totally great with it."