I know I promised my next post about my travels to Santorini. Don’t worry it’s coming soon. This week, I wanted to take a break from Greece to bring you highlights from my fun day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) Costume Exhibition.
Being a fashionista at heart (although I now wear yoga leggings most days), I so look forward to my yearly visit to the MET Costume Exhibition with my BFF J and BFF N. It is a high point of the summer. This year was no exception. The exhibition was a feast for the eyes and I can’t wait to share my photos.
Are you ready for a visual extravaganza?
The 2017 “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” exhibition features the Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo, who designs under the label Comme des Garçons. Kawakubo is in her mid-70s today and is a true artist. The exhibition is mesmerizing with clothes artfully arranged atop and inside geometrically-arranged white display cases and cylinders.
Are you ready to be transformed by fashion as art?
“Her fashions not only stand apart from the genealogy of clothing but also resist definition and confound interpretation. They can be read as Zen koans or riddles devised to baffle, bemuse, and bewilder,” notes the printed guide. “At the center of her work are the koan mu (emptiness) and the related notion of ma (space), which coexist in the concept of the ‘in-between.'”
Are you ready to channel your inner fashionista?
We followed the map around the exhibition which led us on a path through nine expressions of Kawakubo’s ‘in-betweenness’: Absence/Presence; Design/Not Design; Fashion/Antifashion; Model/Multiple; High/Low; Then/Now; Self/Other; Object/Subject; and Clothes/Not Clothes.
The duality of the designs reminded me of my yoga studies and the duality and equanimity we try to create with yoga poses. In fact, it was so Zen in the exhibition hall at times I wished I could have put down a mat and done yoga among the clothes. (Wonder if the MET would like to have me host a Kawakubo yoga session? Maybe I should ask them?)
Are you ready for my Insta-worthy Kawakubo photos?
Ooh, ahh, ooh, ahh!
Did you like the photos? Which outfit would you wear? Leave a comment and LMK. (Personally, I would like to try on the red gingham with the goose down humps. Rihanna wore one of the dresses from the 19th-Century Punk Collection at the 2017 MET Gala.)
If you are a fashionista like me and want to be inspired by the entire exhibition I encourage you to take a trip to the MET, where Rei Kawakubo designs are on display through September 4th. Or watch the MET video below narrated by MET Costume Institute Curator Andrew Bolton.
If you missed the MET Gala and want to watch the fashions, see below.
(Note: For those who cannot view the videos here is a link. Scroll down on the page to find the video.)
There was a Japanese fashion exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA a couple of years ago with quite a few outfits from Rei Kawakubo including a few that are now in the MET exhibit. It was very interesting to see how the Japanese couture fashions of the 1970s-early 2000s have influenced mainstream clothing decades later. I would have loved to have seen this show too! Glad you covered it!
Allison, thanks for commenting about the exhibit. Glad you were able to see a few of Kawakubo’s designs in your local area. It was a wonderful exhibition.
Certainly interesting and unusual. Bravo for highlighting the narrow space between fashion and art. If one departs the expectation that fashion is intended to be worn and takes a stroll through fashion as art, in the sense of “not wearable art” but pure art, then that is indeed a freeing constraint. From that point of view, my immediate reaction, which in some cases is negative when looking at items that I feel are counter to the female form, then I am left with three dimensional sculptures/paintings/fabric/ texture/art, in which case anything goes.
However, having grown up in a family of fashion designers, in Paris, I must admit that I am repeatedly yanked back to the “can you wear that?” or at least, “some derivative of that”. So for instance, I applaud the black strips on white fabric photo or the blood red war/peace collection. But I am not too keen on the dresses that add bumps here or there, which make the female form deformed. I do not get the point of that.
I also lived in Japan for a while and I get the Kawai-ko reference, but outside of the Japanese community that would probably find amusement in the “hidden” teddy bear, I am not sure this is a reference that speaks beyond the Japanese archipelago.
Like you, I have very much enjoyed fashion museums or historical/art installations around the fashion theme. I love the Museum of fashion in Paris near the Eiffel Tower, which has the history of fashion and does the beautiful job of curating fashion across the ages.. More recently we saw a wonderful exhibition in Luang Prabang in Laos of ethnic clothing made into modern designs.
Thank you for highlighting this thought provoking exhibition.
Ben, thanks for your insights into the Japanese world of fashion. I’ll be visiting Paris in 2018 and will have to check out the Museum of Fashion.