02 May Met Gala flirts with the absurd

A peek inside the most exclusive event on the fashion calendar
Words: Bianca Agenbag

The invitation-only fundraiser known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) Gala has become notorious for its red carpet looks, extravagant décor, and illustrious guest list but the real reason behind the event is to celebrate the opening of the annual Costume Institute’s spring exhibition.

This year’s exhibition themed Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between has been dedicated to the 74-year-old Japanese designer, making her only the second living designer ever to receive a solo show at the Met since Yves Saint Laurent in 1983.

As one of fashion’s most renowned visionaries, Kawakubo has challenged society’s definition of beauty, identity, and gender since she launched her label Comme des Garçons in 1969. Her inspiration doesn’t come from the outside world but from within as she sees this as the only way to create something that is truly unique.

“Going around museums and galleries, seeing films, talking to people, seeing new shops, looking at silly magazines, taking an interest in the activities of people in the street, looking at art, traveling: all these things are not useful,” she wrote in a 2013 manifesto for System magazine. “I can only wait for the chance for something completely new to be born within myself.”

It is this point of view that results in the most outrageous, radical and beautiful pieces that blur the lines between fashion and art. At times furred and feathered or coy or cartoonish (like paper-doll dresses in crayon-colored felt) but always eccentric, delicate and different.

The show will feature approximately 150 pieces of Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons womenswear dating back to the early 1980s up until her most recent collection and has been divided into nine subthemes namely; Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes.

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