There is little about Rei Kawakubo that hasn’t already been said. She is a genius, a brilliant businesswoman who has maintained sole ownership over an empire molded exclusively in her image, a radical provocateur who still runs creative circles around those far younger than her 75 years. With the death of Azzedine Alaïa, she is arguably the world’s greatest living designer and she seems far from finished. Her company is one of perpetual innovation recognized for its idiosyncratic, undefinable and often puzzling aesthetic that resonates with the misfit in everyone. From her famous Lumps and Bumps collection that made viewers confront society’s fetishization of women’s curves to her enduring collaboration with photographer Nick Knight, she has produced more iconic moments than are possible to recount—but perhaps not all is exactly as idyllic as it seems.

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