Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 Exhibition at The Met to Focus on Rei Kawakubo and the “Art of the In-Between”

Costume Institute Benefit on May 1 with Co-Chairs Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Anna Wintour; and Honorary Chair Rei Kawakubo

Exhibition Dates: May 4–September 4, 2017

Member Previews: May 2–May 3, 2017

Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, Floor 2

As expected (and the most gossiped-about morsel of news during the European leg of the Spring/Summer 2017 womenswear fashion shows), The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that The Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 exhibition will be Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, on view from May 4 through September 4, 2017 (preceded on May 1 by The Costume Institute Benefit). Presented in the Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall on the second floor, the exhibition will examine Kawakubo’s fascination with interstitiality, or the space between boundaries. Existing within and between entities—self/other, object/subject, fashion/anti-fashion—Kawakubo’s work challenges conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and, ultimately, fashionability. Not a traditional retrospective, the thematic exhibition will be The Costume Institute’s first monographic show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.

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Image: Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), “Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body,” spring/summer 1997. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Paolo Roversi

In blurring the art/fashion divide, Kawakubo asks us to think differently about clothing,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “Curator Andrew Bolton will explore work that often looks like sculpture in an exhibition that will challenge our ideas about fashion’s role in contemporary culture.”

Rei Kawakubo said, “I have always pursued a new way of thinking about design…by denying established values, conventions, and what is generally accepted as the norm. And the modes of expression that have always been most important to me are fusion…imbalance… unfinished… elimination…and absence of intent.

The exhibition will be curated by Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, who will collaborate on the exhibition design with Rei Kawakubo. Nathan Crowley will serve as exhibition production designer for the fifth time, working in collaboration with The Met’s Design Department.

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2. Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), “Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body,” spring/summer 1997. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Paolo Roversi

The exhibition will feature approximately 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from her first Paris runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection. Organized thematically rather than chronologically, the examples will examine Kawakubo’s revolutionary experiments in interstitiality or “in-betweenness”. By situating her designs within and between dualities such as East/West, male/female, and past/present, Kawakubo not only challenges the rigidity and artificiality of such binaries, but also resolves and dissolves them. To reflect this, mannequins will be arranged at eye level with no physical barriers, thereby dissolving the usual distance between objects on display and museum visitors.

Anna Cleveland

3. Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), “Blue Witch,” spring/summer 2016 Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Paolo Roversi

Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

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4. Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942) for Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), “Not Making Clothing,” spring/summer 2014. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Paolo Roversi

In celebration of the opening, The Met‘s Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 1, 2017. The evening’s co-chairs will be Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Anna Wintour. Rei Kawakubo will serve as Honorary Chair. Raul Avila will produce the gala décor, which he has done since 2007. The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.met-logo

Special support for the exhibition and gala will come from Apple, Condé Nast, Farfetch, H&M, and Maison Valentino.

A publication, authored by Bolton and designed by Fabien Baron, will accompany the exhibition. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

A special feature on the Museum’s website, www.metmuseum.org/ReiKawakubo, provides information about the exhibition. Follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala. Use #MetKawakubo, #CostumeInstitute, and #MetGala on Instagram and Twitter.

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