Rei Kawakubo’s ‘Art of In-Between,’ launching this week at The Met, is a punk-tinged cornucopia, artisanal tesseract and (anti-)fashion caldron that will expand your awareness and elevate your heart rate.
The Met pays tribute to the designer’s tectonically imagined fashion and objets d’art starting this week. The epic exhibit, curated by Andrew Bolton, will showcase approximately 150 pieces from the early 80s to her most recent range.
Rei Kawakubo, the 74 year old creative force behind Comme des Garçons, will be celebrated at the Met Gala tonight, one of the most venerable institutions/pow-wows in the land. A laconic philosopher queen, ad whiz and alpha-class esthete, she has dispensed with the fashion rule book altogether, implementing her own inimitable form of ecstatic and eccentric self-expression (embodied in ‘kachikan’ 価値観, or underlying values and guiding artistic principles), wrapping us in her psychic embrace, persuading us that art and the avant-garde are everything, giving us mystical sartorial mutations with gravitas, grace and intensity.
Hailing from Japan, the self-taught renegade — famed for her ‘Hiroshima Chicness’ (that’s how the critics characterized her work once upon a time) and radical modes of deconstruction — cuts and constructs in a manner that her clothes are neither obviously for guys nor gals, producing ambiguous, oddball get-ups and objets d’art season after season, show after show, for nearly fifty years. She makes us see things we didn’t know we needed to see until we see them. She gives us enclosed fashion Edens in the form of her flagship boutiques, Comme and Dover Street Market, and pop-ups like I.T and Comme Play Box. She engenders endlessly majestic fashion magic through her iconoclastic and eye-popping marketing campaigns; and her cabinet of sartorial ontology contains an infinitude of unpacked information to be mined by anyone willing to take the chance.
She’s one smart, ultra-reticent, anal-retentive, divine and deeply driven artist. No one gets the cross-section of commerce, fashion showbiz, and avant-gardism like her. Her DIY ideology, replete with references to alt-lit motifs, art history, costume design and political philosophy, cherry-picked and channeled into new aesthetics, is an alchemical cyclotron. She made punk luxe; she made grunge glorious; she re-packaged anti-establishment disenchantment into pure beauty and perfect quality. In doing so, she subverted and sublimated every dress code fashion has ever known. The big brains behind CDG and DSM, as well as a mentor to and incubator for spitfire creatives like Junya Watanabe, Noir Kei Ninomiya, Undercover and Tao Kurihara, she’s an accelerator par excellence. And in giving us these utterly original, extraordinary magpie styles, modes and distinct visages — both metaphysical and visual — Rei gets you to think about and relish her rich visual tidal pools with an extra splash of ooh-rah for the avant-garde. We salute you, Rei Kawakubo!
Rei Kawakubo’s ‘Art of In-Between’ at The Met opens on May 4, 2017 in New York City
VIVISXN – Fashion + Art + Culture