Japanese fashion designer, Rei Kawakubo, is the subject of this year’s spring exhibition organized by the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show will be the museum’s first monographic exhibition to focus on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.
The exhibition Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between is split into nine themes of duality, and are titled Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Antifashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes, some of which are also divided into a number of sub-categories.
The abstract creations, some of them in extravagant proportions, by the now 74-year-old designer resemble sculptures. The exhibition will showcase over 150 garments, designed between the 1980s and now. The clothes are presented in a minimalistic setting with different sized white cubes. The space was designed by Kawakubo in conjunction with the museum.
The label was founded in 1969 by Rei Kawakubo. Kawakubo herself was never formally trained in fashion, instead choosing to study fine art and literature. Based in Tokyo, she brought her first collection to Paris in 1981. In signature black, the collection featured strong but conflated silhouettes, honoring provocation over fit. Her unapologetic vision of deconstructed, oversized and shapeless pieces took over the western culture and established her reputation as one of the greatest female designers in fashion history.
The groundbreaking 1997 Spring/Summer collection entitled “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body”, was based on the concept of a woman being physically attached to her burdens, which was visibly translated in the combination of “lumps” and gingham print throughout the collection.
Deconstructed leather, cocooning skirts, and geometric volumes were used for the Spring 2009 collection.
Cara Delevingne for i-D magazine, November 2013, wearing Comme des Garçon.
Another iconic collection is Autumn/Winter 2012 which included cartoon-like pieces with unique three-dimensional silhouettes.
The “18th Century Punk” theme of the Autumn/Winter 2016-17 collection included show-stopping pieces with extreme volume, one in which Rihanna paid homage to the designer during the Met Gala last Monday in New York.
The Fall 2017 is the last collection that will make it to the exhibition, with huge armless forms and sculptural curves. A bold collection with a futuristic look.
The exhibition Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between opens to the public on Thursday 4 May 2017 and continues until 4 September 2017.