Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: The Art of the In- Between

Rei Kawakubo by Annie Leibovitz

Fashion is something that you can attach to yourself, put on, and through that interaction, the meaning of it is born. – Rei Kawakubo

Today, the first Monday in May, holds the Met Ball Gala in New York. An evening arguably the flashiest, most pompous, most important date on the fashion calendar. This year’s occasion celebrates the opening of the newly minted exhibition:

Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: The Art of the In- Between.

Surprisingly, it will be the first monograph show at the Metropolitan Museum which focuses on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit in 1983.  Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator in charge, states:

“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past forty years. By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

And true his words are. Through her creative direction at Comme des Garçons, she continues to present unconventional, forward thinking designs which vibrate with post-punk energy, a crisp Japanese aesthetic, and above all full of theatrics. Kawakubo’s seasonal collections continuously reinterpret the meaning of contemporary fashion, rightly earning her the reputation as one of the only fashion geniuses since Yves Saint Laurent.

She changed the way we dress and view clothes.

Rei Kawakubo by Terry Jones (TASCHEN)

Rei Kawakubo by Terry Jones (TASCHEN)

An example of her creative impact on the masses is her popularisation of the colour black. Before 1981, the inaugural year of CDG,  black was worn for mourning. Today, no matter what high street in the world, black is painted all over our clothing choices. When presenting Kawakubo with the Excellence in Design Award in 2000, Harvard School of Design cited she was the inventor of black – one of her most “objective achievements”. However,  of the New Yorker suggests Kawakubo achieved a revival of black’s cachet as the colour of refusal.

120 Comme des Garçons womenswear designs will be presented throughout the exhibition, some pieces dating back to the label’s Paris runway debut collection in 1981. The pieces will be organised by contrasting themes of “in-betweeness”. In between: East and West, male and female, past and present, joy and sadness, life and death, Fashion and Anti-Fashion, High and Low, Self and Other, Clothes and Not Clothes… so on and so forth.

Within these “grey” areas lies Kawakubo’s genius.

Comme des Garçons Spring Summer 2012

The Met Ball Gala will be hosted by Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Anna Wintour, with Kawakubo serving as honorary chair. The the exhibit will be sponsored by Apple, Condé Nast, Farfetch, H&M, and Maison Valentino.

The exhibition will be open May 4th – September 4th 2017.