Living Fashion Legend Rei Kawakubo to Receive Unusual Costume Institute Show
It is the first time in over 30 years that a show is dedicated to a living designer.
After Rei Kawakubo launched her fashion house Comme des Garçons in 1969, the iconoclastic designer considered such concepts as the persona, the power suit, and, most recently, the hotly-contested trend of fast fashion. Now, these projects—among many others drawn from her enduring creative legacy—may be surveyed by the Met’s Costume Institute in an exhibition next spring.
According to Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), which first had the story, Kawakubo’s exhibition marks the first time a living fashion designer will be shown since Yves-Saint Laurent had the honor back in 1983—and this isn’t the only thing they share in common, as both visionaries hold evident appreciation for high art. Laurent’s successful integration of Piet Modrian’s geometric paintings into the realm of fashion parallels Kawakubo’s own collaboration with artists like Ai Weiwei and Cindy Sherman. whom she worked with in 1994.
Kawakubo maintains a distinction between the realms of art and fashion—though her work is decidedly avant-garde. As she told Ronnie Cooke Newhouse in a conversation for Interview Magazine in 2008:
In terms of creation, I have never thought of suiting any system or abiding by any rules—either a long time ago or right now. In this respect I have remained free. Fashion is not art. The aims of fashion and art are different and there is no need to compare them.
This news comes on the heels of the Met’s exhibition, “Manus X Machina,” which, in turn, was spurred by the runaway success of previous fashion-oriented shows like “China: Through the Looking Glass,” and Alexander McQueen’s retrospective, “Savage Beauty.” WWD notes that Kawabuko’s exhibition may “rival the scale” of McQueen’s 2011 exhibition, which saw 661,509 visitors during its three-month run.
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