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Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 Exhibition at The Met to Focus on Rei Kawakubo and the Art of the In-Between

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons

Costume Institute Benefit on May 1 with Co-Chairs
Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Anna Wintour;
and Honorary Chair Rei Kawakubo

Exhibition Dates: May 4–September 4, 2017
Member Previews:
May 2–May 3, 2017
Exhibition Location:   The Met Fifth Avenue
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, Floor 2
Press Preview: Monday, May 1, 10 am–1 pm

(New York, October 21, 2016)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that The Costume Institute’s spring 2017 exhibition will be Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, on view from May 4 through September 4, 2017 (preceded on May 1 by The Costume Institute Benefit). Presented in the Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall on the second floor, the exhibition will examine Kawakubo’s fascination with interstitiality, or the space between boundaries. Existing within and between entities—self/other, object/subject, fashion/anti-fashion—Kawakubo’s work challenges conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and, ultimately, fashionability. Not a traditional retrospective, the thematic exhibition will be The Costume Institute’s first monographic show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.

“In blurring the art/fashion divide, Kawakubo asks us to think differently about clothing,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “Curator Andrew Bolton will explore work that often looks like sculpture in an exhibition that will challenge our ideas about fashion’s role in contemporary culture.”

In celebration of the opening, The Met's Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 1, 2017. The evening’s co-chairs will be Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Anna Wintour. Rei Kawakubo will serve as Honorary Chair. The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

Rei Kawakubo said, “I have always pursued a new way of thinking about design...by denying established values, conventions, and what is generally accepted as the norm. And the modes of expression that have always been most important to me are fusion...imbalance... unfinished... elimination...and absence of intent.”

Exhibition Overview
The exhibition will feature approximately 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from her first Paris runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection. Organized thematically rather than chronologically, the examples will examine Kawakubo’s revolutionary experiments in interstitiality or “in-betweenness”—the space between boundaries. By situating her designs within and between dualities such as East/West, male/female, and past/present, Kawakubo not only challenges the rigidity and artificiality of such binaries, but also resolves and dissolves them. To reflect this, mannequins will be arranged at eye level with no physical barriers, thereby dissolving the usual distance between objects on display and museum visitors.

Exhibition Credits
The exhibition will be curated by Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, who will collaborate on the exhibition design with Rei Kawakubo. Nathan Crowley will serve as exhibition production designer for the fifth time, working in collaboration with The Met’s Design Department. Raul Avila will produce the gala décor, which he has done since 2007.

Special thanks to Apple, Condé Nast, Farfetch, H&M, and Maison Valentino for their support of the exhibition and benefit.

Related Content
A publication, authored by Andrew Bolton and designed by Fabien Baron, will accompany the exhibition. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

A special feature on the Museum’s website, www.metmuseum.org/ReiKawakubo, provides information about the exhibition. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala. Use #MetKawakubo, #CostumeInstitute, and #MetGala on Instagram and Twitter.

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October 21, 2016


Image: Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), "Body Meets Dress - Dress Meets Body," spring/summer 1997. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Paolo Roversi

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