See the Otherworldly First Images From the Met’s Genre-Defying Rei Kawakubo Retrospective

The much-anticipated Costume Institute show is designed to stun.

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: War/Peace © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: War/Peace. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As the throngs of A-list celebs who will descend upon the red carpet on Museum Mile for tonight’s Met Gala readied themselves, this morning, a flurry of camera-toting fashion reporters and news crews elbowed one another to get a first glimpse of the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition: “Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.

The show is being heralded for its dedication to a living designer whose demure public persona belies her revolutionary craft. At the preview, the famously reclusive Kawakubo sat demurely with her husband, Adrian Joffe (the president of CdG International), alongside Condé Nast impresario Anna Wintour. True to form, the designer did not speak, leaving remarks to Met director Thomas P. Campbell; Caroline Kennedy, former ambassador to Japan and friend of Kawakubo; and Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton.

As for the show, it is notable for its crazy installation design, featuring curving, all-white pavilion-like anterooms. Some exhibits are set inside intimate, booth-like spaces that you have to poke your head into to get a clear view (a device sure to get annoying when the inevitable crowds pack the show), while a number of displays are suspended in the air above the heads of visitors. Kawakubo’s unforgettable dresses are displayed on some 100 mannequins, swathed and strapped in all manner of fabric, crowned with Seussian-wigs crafted by master hair stylist Julien d’Y.

Below, the first available images of the sartorial spectacular, which opens to the public on May 4.

Gallery view, Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between . © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between . © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Design by Rei Kawakubo on display at the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala Press Preview at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

Design by Rei Kawakubo on display at the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala Press Preview at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

Gallery view, Object/Subject © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Object/Subject.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Absence/Presence. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Absence/Presence. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Gallery view, (from left) High/Low, Model/Multiple, Fashion/Antifashion, Design/Not Design. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, (from left) High/Low, Model/Multiple, Fashion/Antifashion, Design/Not Design.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Designs by Rei Kawakubo on display at the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala Press Preview at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

Designs by Rei Kawakubo on display at the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala Press Preview at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

Gallery view, Then/Now, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Then/Now, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: Form/Function © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: Form/Function.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Self/Other: East/West © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Self/Other: East/West.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: Form/Function © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: Form/Function.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: War/Peace. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery view, Clothes/Not Clothes: War/Peace.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Gallery view, (from left) Bound/Unbound, Order/Chaos. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallery view, (from left) Bound/Unbound, Order/Chaos.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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