- The designer that blends art and fashion with business -
The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the
three greatest museums of the world, has debuted the “Rei Kawakubo /
Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” exhibition. The Costume
Institute which unveils a newly themed exhibition every May has grown
its reputation throughout the years, with last year’s “Manus x Machina:
Fashion in an Age of Technology” ranking as the seventh most visited
exhibitions of the Museum, and the 2015 “China: Through the Looking
Glass” ranking in as the fifth. This year’s show is the first monograph
exhibition at the Met to focus on a living designer since its Yves Saint
Laurent exhibit in 1983, and the first to feature a Japanese designer.
The exhibition attracted a long line before the press event and gained
media attention before the opening.
The exhibition is organized in booths with contradicting themes:
Absence / Presence, Design / Not Design, Fashion / Antifashion,
Model / Multiple, High / Low, Then / Now, Self / Other, Object /
Subject and Clothes / Not Clothes. It features approximately 140 of
Kawakubo's designs from her first Paris show in the early 1980s to
her most recent 2017 A/W collection.
The exhibition venue, also designed by Kawakubo herself in coordination
with the Museum, is created with straight and curving lines on plain white
walls. The ceilings covered with fluorescent lights are a departure from
the spotlights normally seen in museums, and create a bright, futuristic
setting very different from the historic Met.
The recent work of Kawakubo, a designer who has pursued the possibilities
of fashion since her debut over 40 years ago, has gradually become a form
of art. Many of the ‘clothes’ that are on display are truly sublime not when
worn, but as powerful creations like magnificent sculptures. The show is
also a rare opportunity to view the designer’s runway pieces up-close.
Kawakubo is a talented creator with a business-like mind, which can be
noticed when in her pop-up shop inside the Museum store. The shop
sells popular items such as small leather goods, as well as exclusive
graphic T-shirts featuring both The Met and Comme des Garçons logos
and a reprinted edition sweater in a design from the 80’s on display in
the exhibition. After experiencing the real essence or the story of a
brand through an exhibition, the desire to purchase is natural and maximizing
this opportunity is only appropriate. With fashion consumption dropping
in recent years, this exhibition provides some valid reminders for the