I was super excited to attend the press preview of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibit Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçon: “Art of the In-Between”. For those who are less familiar with Rei Kawakubo, who the founder of avant-garde label COMMES des Garçon, Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator described her as “one of the most important and influential designers of the past forty years”. Rei Kawakubo is the second living designer to have a monographic show inside the Met since 1983, when the museum honored Yves Saint Laurent with a retrospective. The exhibition will open to the public on Thursday May 4th and ends on September 4, 2017.
In the fashion world, she is known as an intellectual, a pioneer who draws her own lines. The exhibit features about 120 Comme des Garçons womenswear designs by Kawakubo, with pieces from the label’s first runway collection in 1981 and up to her most recent shows.
The “Art of the In-Between” examines nine expressions of” in-betweenness” such as Fashion/Anti-Fashion; Then/Now; Clothes/Not Clothes; Design/Not Design. The exhibit was fascinating and intense. The labels are minimal but there is a booklet provided for those who want to read more about the designs. I won’t bore you with too many descriptions because I believe the pieces speak for themselves. Overall, the exhibit was intense and fascinating, and runs the gamut of adjectives: somewhat disturbing and even grotesque, wacky, strange, and surreal. Simply put: I loved it! Kawakubo has stated before that beautiful things for her are not necessarily beautiful to everyone else, but they could well be very scary. One thing is for certain, Kawakubo has been in search of newness since founding Commes de Garçon in 1973 and her designs are still fresh and full of surprises.