Time, Cruelty and Destruction in Deconstructivist Fashion: Kawakubo, Margiela and Vetements


  • Adam Geczy The University of Sydney
  • Vicki Karaminas Massey University New Zealand




Deconstructionist fashion, Silhouette, Destruction, Time, Critical fashion practice


It is generally agreed that deconstruction in fashion was ushered in by the first major collections of Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) in the early 1980s. Kawakubo, together with Vivienne Westwood and Martin Margiela revolutionised fashion by turning their back on finery and preciousness in favour of a fundamentally aberrant sartorial language that suggested impoverishment, discontinuity and discord. However, these three designers came to this aesthetic in differing ways and intentions. As we argue in detail in Critical Fashion Practice (2017) Kawakubo’s (and Martin Margiela’s) approach can be strongly aligned to the philosophies of deconstruction as advanced by Jacques Derrida, and more specifically to deconstructivism which is the more structural and practical application of deconstructionist principles when applied to architecture. Kawakubo’s deconstructivist approach destabilises binaries of inside-outside, body-clothing, old-new, worn and discarded, and so on. Kawakubo’s ground-breaking designs went on to influence Margiela who would revolt against the holy scriptures of couture by experimenting with silhouettes, reversing linings and hems inside out and experimenting with oversized proportions. Just as Derridean approaches to philosophy, literature and cultural theory influenced feminist and postcolonial scholars, so too has Kawakubo and Margiela influenced several generations of designers and such as Demna Gvasalia of Vetements, who have not only followed Margiela’s example but continues to expand the notion of what clothing, fashion and dress means, functions and signifies in the Anthropocene age.


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How to Cite

Geczy, A., & Karaminas, V. (2020). Time, Cruelty and Destruction in Deconstructivist Fashion: Kawakubo, Margiela and Vetements. ZoneModa Journal, 10(1), 65–77. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2611-0563/11088