INSIDE THE MET - REI KAWAKUBO'S MONUMENTAL EXHIBITION

INSIDE THE MET – REI KAWAKUBO’S MONUMENTAL EXHIBITION

 

If we can shift our attention from the grand entrances at the Costume Institute’s Met Gala….the long trains, who wore what among the long list of over 100 celebrities who graced the annual fundraiser, and, pay some attention to the actual exhibition – `Rei Kawakubo Commes des Garcons – Art of the In-Between’ we’ll discover a phenomenal display of innovative, transformational clothes. Staged in the Iris and B.Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition which will be on display through September 4, 2017, `Art of the In-Between’ is a lavish retrospective of this Tokyo-based, 74 year-old designer, the second only living designer to be given this honor at the Met Costume Institute. Designer Rei Kawakubo is all about transcending rules. Her fashions not only stand apart from the genealogy of clothing, but also resist definition and confound interpretation. Kawakubo is focused on the concept of disrupting the accepted characteristics of conventional beauty.

 

NSIDE THE MET - REI KAWAKUBO'S MONUMENTAL EXHIBITION

REI KAWAKUBO’S EXHIBITION – Image by Walter Greene

THE EXPERIENCE
`Art of the In-Between’ is truly a holistic, immersive experience, nothing is defined even the shapes are all distorted. There are no concrete boundaries. Viewing this exhibit is also a revolutionary experience that’s directional and extremely powerful. The designer herself admitted that in 2014, she became frustrated with her design process, which she felt hindered her pursuit of “newness.” Adopting a radical method of creation with the intention of “not making clothes,” she aspired to translate her ideas directly into forms, or “objects for the body.” Kawakubo said of the `Clothes/Not Clothes’ concept: “If we say these are clothes, it’s all very usual, so we say `they are not clothes.’ It sounds like a Zen dialogue, but it is very simple.” More recently, as noted in the exhibition’s program, the designer said earlier this year: “My clothes and the spaces they inhabit are inseparable – they are one and the same. They convey the same vision, the same message, and the same sense of value.”

 

MEDIA PREVIEW – PRESS CONFERENCE
At the Media Preview and press conference early on Monday morning, before the Gala, Thomas P.Campbell, Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, told hundreds of media guests that Rei Kawakubo, blurs distinction between art and fashion. “It’s unlike anything we’ve done here before.” He gave special thanks and recognition to the event sponsors who made the exhibit possible, and showed; “Gratitude to Anna Wintour for her continuous support and enthusiasm. Thank you Rei and her team at Commes des Garcons, for opening their archives for us.”

 

Caroline Kennedy- Image by Walter Greene

 THE KENNEDY CONNECTION
Caroline Kennedy, former United States Ambassador to Japan took to the podium, wearing a dazzling Commes des Garcons jacket of many colors, stated; “I am honored to join you in celebrating an amazing woman whom I call a friend. Thank you Met for bringing Commes des Garcons to a wider audience.” Kennedy expressed that, as an artist, Kawakubo’s vision is universal and that being Japanese, in this case was irrelevant. “But having spent the last three years in Japan, I think there is something about the uncompromising originality, the rigid formality of her work, that attention to detail, that embodies the sensibility of Japan. Her commitment to excellence and closeness to her team….no one does it better than Rei. Her designs are beautiful, her amazing clothes transcending rules, age and gender, re-connects us to silence. This exhibition has a lot to teach us.” Kennedy continued: “Although Rei Kawakubo is too unpredictable to be designated a national treasure in Japan, she certainly is one, in the hearts of the fashion community worldwide.”

 

CURATOR ANDREW BOLTON

INSIDE THE MET – REI KAWAKUBO’S MONUMENTAL EXHIBITION

ANDREW BOLTON

Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge, The Costume Institute closed out the Media briefing explained that he met with designer Kawakubo exactly one year ago to put the exhibit together. “Her anxiety ran a little deeper than mine. Since her first show in 1981, she’s consistently disrupted our expectations – she’s placed fashion at the epicenter of the universe, her work makes the art versus fashion conversation redundant…..There are 9 recurring aesthetic expressions of the `In – Betweeness’ in Rei’s collections – Absence/Presence; Design/Not Design; Fashion/Anti Fashion; Model/Multiple; High/Low; Then/Now; Self/Other; Object/Subject; and Clothes/Not Clothes.” Andrew continued; “These themes reveal how her designs occupy the spaces between these dualities, she ultimately decided not to make clothes, but objects for the body….Kawakubo doesn’t like explaining her work, she lets the clothes do the talking. We want people to engage in the fashion on a more personal level.”

 

REI KAWAKUBO'S EXHIBITION - Image by Walter Greene

REI KAWAKUBO’S EXHIBITION – Image by Walter Greene

 

FINALE’
`The Art of the In-Between’ was created as riddles devised to baffle, bemuse, and bewilder. According to program notes – `Kawakubo’s Art of the In Between generates meaningful mediations and connections as well as revolutionary innovations and transformations, offering endless possibilities for creation and re-creation.’

 

 

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