On a crisp morning during Paris Fashion Week, Conde Nast editorial director Anna Wintour together with Andrew Bolton, The Metropolitan Museum of Art ‘s curator in charge of The Costume Institute, formally announced their first monographic exhibition dedicated to a living designer since the 1983 retrospective on Yves Saint Laurent. “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” on view beginning May 4 through September 4 (The Met, Fifth Avenue, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, Floor 2) spans nearly four decades of Ms. Kawakubo’s womenswear collections. One hundred fifty pieces will be grouped into eight thematic binaries that delve into her aesthetic fixation on interstitially: Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Design/Not Design, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Much the way jazz musicians purposely strike a note between two beats, Ms. Kawakubo’s fashions seek innovation, meaning, and connection in the void.

Ms. Kawakubo has captivated the fashion industry since launching Comme des Garçons in 1975 and subsequently showing in Paris in 1981. Her ascendance, in concurrence with Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake, heralded the global significance of Japanese fashion design. Even then she was already assaulting expectations by using non professional models, art and film celebrities in photography and runway shows. More noteworthy were her transmutations of fabrics on the loom with long time collaborator Hiroshi Matsushita to effect texture and complexities of the weave. Evincing a fascination for the architecture of Le Corbusier and Tadao Ando, her creations defy conventions of silhouette, drawing on the complex layering of the Japanese kimono to construct garments within which the body can reside. That these sculptures in cloth provoke continued discourse and still remain cryptic provides the exhibit a platform in its attempt to unravel some, if not all, their multivalent mysteries.

As is the tradition, this year’s Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, inaugurates the exhibit on May 1. New York’s most anticipated social event, it will be co-chaired by Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Anna Wintour, with Rei Kawakubo and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy serving as Honorary Chairs. The design for the benefit will be created by Nathan Crowley with Raul Avila, who has produced the Benefit décor since 2007.

MET Costume Institute Spring 2017 Exhibit
for Comme des Garçons 18th Century Punk, autumn/winter 2016–17

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons  18th Century Punk, autumn/winter 2016–17 Photo: Courtesy of Comme des Garçons. Photograph by © Paolo Roversi; Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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About Author

Joseph Pastrana

Joseph Pastrana has spent most of his career in lifestyle - from his extensive experience in public relations and brand building to writing features on a range of art and culture subjects. He was formerly fashion director for the Los Angeles-based trade publication MetroStyle where he oversaw the magazine’s coverage of local and international fashion labels. He personally attended seasonal Fashion Weeks in New York, Paris and Milan and wrote profiles and reviews on designers and collections including Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Todd Oldham and many others. Joseph has also written for magazines in Chicago and New York on travel, books, music and films. He returned to public relations consultancy work through affiliation with Mannfolk PR as its New York division to develop emerging fashion resources as well as managing the communications requirements for clients in various lifestyle categories including fitness and interior design.

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