Cool and discreet, always in the shadow of her creations, who’d have thought Rei Kawakubo would agree to such a project. And yet the woman in charge of the most iconoclastic label for the last 50 years is currently being celebrated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Indeed the last time a living designer was shown there it was Yves Saint Laurent in 1978.

 

Ever faithful to the concept of “kachikan” (values) that make up the very soul of the house, never looking backwards, and caught up in a constant state of renewal and questioning, the Japanese designer has always pushed the boundaries of creation with her extraordinary collections and unexpected collaborations (Supreme, Nike, Gosha Rubchinskiy…). It’s a veritable mantra for the woman who along with her compatriot Yohji Yamamoto and designer Helmut Lang launched the anti-fashion movement in the 1990s.

 

Extravagant, hybrid, indefinable, Rei Kawakubo’s fashion has broken all the rules of the industry’s established order. Now 150 Comme des Garçons creations are being displayed in a non-chronological order around themes such as object/subject, absence/presence, before/after, fashion/anti-fashion… She who for the last fifty years hasn’t “wanted to just make clothes” (as the title of her spring-summer 2014 collection “Not Making Clothes” affirmed) is surrounded by a tight circle of aficionados. With the exhibition “Art of In-Between”, the Met hopes to increase those numbers.

 

For the event the museum is also publishing a book with120 images that have made an impact on fashion and the history of Comme des Garçons - from her beginnings as a designer in Paris in 1981 to her influence on the notion of the body and beauty. The book celebrates the work of Rei Kawakubo through the photos of artists including Paolo Roversi, Collier Schorr, Nicholas Alan Cope, Inez & Vinoodh, Katerina Jebb, Kazumi Kurigami, Ari Marcopoulos, Craig McDean and Brigitte Niedermair

 

 

“Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between”​, until 4th september 2017 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York.

Exhibition catalogue, MET Publications.