“From the Vault” is a weekly post highlighting a rare book from the Clark Library’s extensive collection. This week, Acquisitions Librarian and Special Projects Officer, Terri Boccia, shares the first issue of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo’s catalogue, Sixth Sense:
From 1988 to 1991, Kawabuko embarked on a bold experiment that transformed the notion of a fashion catalogue from a documentary listing of individual items into an avant-garde fine arts magazine that incidentally included images of the Comme des Garçons line.
She called the publication Sixth Sense, or Six for short, explaining in the premier issue, “‘Six’ is the sixth sense. It is the sense of the surreal. Although the sixth sense is impossible to describe, ‘flair’ may be one aspect of this sense.” Each issue mixed newly commissioned works by the hottest contemporary fashion photographers showcasing Comme des Garçons wardrobe with iconic images created by the masters of photography. Contemporary artists frequently appeared in the issues, both with their art and as models. The overall gritty quality of the prints is evocative of Kawakubo’s design aesthetic.
The Clark is one of a small number of libraries that holds a complete set of Sixth Sense. This issue features highlights from the Comme des Garçons 1988 season, including Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ portraits of contemporary artists dressed in the firm’s Comme line. Particularly notable is a die-cut overlay in a feature on Jean Cocteau, which puts the French Surrealist in a stylish Comme des Garçons suit.