René Burri x Comme des Garçons: (note: Burri’s photographs were used for all the 2012 direct mail catalogs, no.1 above) “It all began because Rei Kawakubo found me. She has an incredible sense of going beyond. When she sent me the first designs, I was amazed because she owned all of my old books. Even the ones from the 1960s, that I did on Germany. She took my work, respected the images and made them into collages in a very interesting way. It is almost like recycling. Taking the same ingredients, but making a new combination, whilst keeping the spirit of things. I was so impressed. In a way, it took my own work further from what I had done at the time, because all I was really doing was going on and on. I couldn’t stop. I am the first photographer in the Comme des Garçons series . When her and Adrian Joffe first asked me to be involved, they showed me the work of Ai Weiwei. I remember turning to Rei and saying “but what can I do, how can i do it?”. She told me that I didn’t have to do anything. That she would take my work, recycle the images and design them. I just saw the last one in the series, no. 29. Rei is really unbelievable. Now, here I am, confronted with a construction of my own work.”
Every year, COMME des GARÇONS selects an artist to feature in its direct mails to clients. Manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo, who was the subject of a large-scale retrospective exhibition in 2012, is this year’s choice. The freshly published first issue features the cover illustration of the first volume of AKIRA. The layout design of the mails is directed by Rei Kawakubo.
The label has a long tradition of collaborations with artists for its advertising materials, one of the most notable example being the collaboration with Cindy Sherman who produced a series of surreal and grotesque photographs for the Fall/Winter 1994-1995 direct mail campaign.
This current format of direct mail was introduced in 2008 by a collaboration with Argentinian art collective Mondongo, followed the next years by motion animators the Quay Brothers, Ai Weiwei, visual and performance artists group Assume Vivid Astro Focus, and photographer René Burri of Magnum Photos.
Otomo, is the first Japanese to be featured. The collaboration will continue throughout 2013 with stores decorations and displays and special items created with the artist.