Rei Kawakubo is considered one of the most prolific and renowned designers in contemporary menswear. And she’s also one of the most elusive.

Since starting Comme des Garçons in 1969, the Japanese creative has typically shied away from publicity, especially in recent years. So you can understand how excited we were when the 72-year-old gave a rare interview to The Guardian, dishing on everything from the latest CdG Homme Plus collection to her long list of collaborations to being misunderstood by the critics; however, the most fascinating topic of discussion was when she talked about the origins of CdG.

Without any formal training, Kawakubo began to work as a freelance stylist and designer in the late 1960s. By the end of the decade, she launched the CdG brand with the intention of offering something new—not only in design concepts but in the way the shop was operated. Kawakubo rarely displayed clothes in the storefront, as she preferred to bring out items for each costumer to ensure interaction. Mirrors were also banned from the boutique because she wanted to “emphasise the notion that one should buy clothes because of how they make you feel, not how they make you look.”

It was pretty unorthodox method to say the least, but it was that kind of eccentricity that ultimately propelled the brand to where it is today: 230 storefronts around the world, 17 brands under CdG, three flagship locations in New York, Paris, and Tokyo, and annual sales of $250 million. 

To read the full interview, in which Kawakubo also talks about business moves and rumors of retirement, go to The Guardian’s website