The Costume Institute's spring 2017 exhibition examines the work of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, known for her avant-garde designs and ability to challenge conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and fashionability. The thematic show features approximately 140 examples of Kawakubo's womenswear for Comme des Garçons dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection, many with heads and wigs created and styled by Julien d'Ys.
The galleries illustrate the designer's revolutionary experiments in "in-betweenness"—the space between boundaries. Objects are organized into nine aesthetic expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo's work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Kawakubo breaks down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness.
"A magnificent, challenging show ... the astonishing garments, installation design and catalog forms a juggernaut that anyone interested in the culture of our time should experience." —New York Times
"The exhibition makes beautiful sense when articulated by Bolton ... If ever there was an exhibit that breaks down barriers between art and fashion, this is it." —Daily Beast
"Is clothing art? Who cares, you'll love the new Met exhibit either way." —USA Today
The exhibition is made possible in part by
Go behind the scenes with Conservator Sarah Scaturro and Senior Research Associate Joyce Fung in this blog post to learn more about the conservation and installation of the objects on view in the exhibition.
Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969). Body Meets Dress–Dress Meets Body, spring/summer 1997; Courtesy of Comme des Garçons. Photograph by © Paolo Roversi