Rei Kawakubo May 4th – Sept 4th MET

Only the second time in the history of the MET, an exhibit featuring a living fashion designer.  Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons Art of the In-Between.  A link here featuring exhibit photos, downloadable exhibit guide and more.

I visited this exhibit before I traveled to Japan.  I had some preconceived notions of Japanese fashion and culture, a lot were outdated or even wrong.  After spending a week in Toyko, I do appreciate this exhibit and the designer much more.  And Japan has become my favorite country to visit.  That experience in a future blog post.

Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese born fashion designer.  She created her label “Comme des Garçons” (French for “like some boys”) in 1973 in Toyko creating women’s clothes adding a men’s line in 1975.  In 1982 she opened a boutique in Paris and started exhibiting at Paris fashion week.

The 74 year old designers fashions are often described as deconstructed, unfinished, anti-fashion, and avant-garde.

This photo of visitors to the exhibit and the gift shop gives you an idea of the wide range of people attracted by her work.   The young Asian devotee embodies the fluidity of gender, form and function of the exhibited art. Because you constantly ask yourself is this fashion or is it art or does it really matter what we call it?

The exhibit is in an all white space.  Pieces are arranged by number, in groups of “In-Between”.    I have included my selected photos from the exhibit.  Heads and wigs created and styled by Julien dYs for this exhibit.

1: Absence / Presence

2 Dimensions Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body Invisible Clothes

 

The first “In-Between” features a jacket and skirt of red polyester felt from Autumn/Winter 2012-2013 (left in the photo)

The middle two are both from the Spring/Summer 1997 collection and are titled Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body.  They feature red stretch nylon and polyurethane plain weave padded with goose down.

The garment on the right is titled Invisible Clothes constructed of red cotton velveteen and PVC  Spring/Summer 2017

 

 

2. Design / Not Design 

Patchworks and X (left) Spring/Summer 1983 Three garments are Crush Spring/Summer 2013

This photo is part of the second “in-between” .  Another  garment included in this section is  a dress of brown paper styled with a wig made from curly wire.

The garments titled Crush are fashioned from off-white cotton canvas.

Patchworks and X   features a top of off-white cotton knit appliqued with off-white cotton ribbon over a dress of off-white cotton muslin and white rayon satin.

The garments exhibit the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi.  In the book Living Wabi-Sabi, author Taro Gold states “In today’s Japan, the meaning of wabi-sabi is often condensed to “wisdom in natural simplicity”. In art books, it is typically defined as “flawed beauty”

 

 

3. Fashion / Antifashion          4. Model / Multiple    5. High / Low

Ballerina Motorbike Spring/Summer 2005
Bad Taste Autumn / Winter 2008-2009

5.1 Elite Culture /Popular Culture (left)

A close up view of the black leather jacket over a skirt of black tulle.  This section compares the “high” culture of ballet with the “low” culture of bikers.

5.2 Good Taste / Bad Taste (right)

Dresses of white tulle with black elastic trim.  Using textiles considered cheap, and tacky (nylon and polyester) and the culture of street style, the designer changes the view of what is good taste.  The front dress is my favorite in the entire collection.

 

6. Then/ Now 7. Self / Other  – includes 7.1 East / West      7.2 Male / Female  and 7.3  Child / Adult

Persona Autumn/Winter 2006-7 left and middle The Infinity of Tailoring Autumn/Winter 2013-14 right

These three garments are from Male / Female fusing types of clothing typically associated with men and women – such as trousers and skirts – into one outfit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Object / Subject  9. Clothes / Not Clothes 

Far left Tomorrow’s Black Spring/Summer 2009 remaining Not Making Clothing Spring/Summer 2014

 

I included this selection from 9.1 Form / Function because of the inventive heads and wigs.    All of the heads and wigs  for the entire exhibition were created and styled by Julien dYs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  9.2 Abstraction / Representation  9.3 Beautiful / Grotesque  9.4 War / Peace 

9.5 Life / Loss  9.6 Fact / Fiction   9.7 Order / Chaos    9.8 Bound /Unbound

I hope you enjoyed this partial tour of the exhibit.  If you want to learn more click on these sources.

Rei Kawakubo – The Guardian’s interview after the Met’s gala lunch

Available on Amazon:  Japanese Fashion Designers: The Work and Influence of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo by Bonnie English

Vogue on Rei Kawakubo 

 Photos in this post were taken with Samsung Galaxy 8 plus and are copyright.  Please see copyright statement before use.