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Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

Start Date 04 May 2017
End Date 04 September 2017
Venue The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Location New York, USA
Curator Andrew Bolton
Various outfits displayed in different sections. In the foregroung are two red dresses displayed on tailor's dummies inside a white circular structure.
Six tailor's dummies, each with skirts, and embroidered bare torsos.
Five black outfits are displayed on tailor's dummies in the foreground, each inspired by black biker jackets and tutus. Each mannequin has a differently styled blonde wig.

The Costume Institute’s spring 2017 exhibition examines the work of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, known for her avant-garde designs and ability to challenge conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and fashionability. The thematic show features approximately 140 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear for Comme des Garçons dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection, many with heads and wigs created and styled by Julien d’Ys. 

The galleries illustrate the designer’s revolutionary experiments in “in-betweenness”—the space between boundaries. Objects are organized into nine aesthetic expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo’s work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Kawakubo breaks down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness.