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Rei Kawakubo Gets the Met

Culture Watch
Looks by Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons.

With so many creators working across disciplines—be it fashion and art, architecture and design, poetry and performance—the timing couldn’t be more perfect than now to celebrate a true iconoclast, Rei Kawakubo.

The Costume Institute’s “Rei Kawakubo /Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between,” explores this idea of the space between boundaries. And this renegade fashion designer has built a career working outside of the traditional confines of fashion design.

“In blurring the art/fashion divide, Kawakubo asks us to think differently about clothing,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “Curator Andrew Bolton will explore work that often looks like sculpture in an exhibition that will challenge our ideas about fashion’s role in contemporary culture.”

Not a traditional retrospective, this thematic exhibition is The Costume Institute’s first monographic show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983. The exhibition includes approximately 140 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection. Objects are organized into eight key expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo’s work: Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Design/NotDesign, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes.

Kawakubo founded Comme des Garçons (“like some boys”) in 1969 in Tokyo, where she continues to work. Never one to ascribe to conventional notions of beauty, Kawakubo has long been one of fashion’s provocateurs—and also one of its most reclusive stars. The opportunity to gain such deep access and insight into her creative process via this exhibition, is reason enough to beeline to the Met this summer, before the show closes September 4.


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