Here at WeaveUp HQ, we love the Met Gala. It’s our favorite fashion holiday. We were glued to Instagram on Monday, watching A-listers take avant-garde looks to the red carpet. The Met Gala is a fundraising event held every year, just before the opening of the new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
This year we are far more enamored with the exhibition itself than the celebrities playing dress up. For the first time since the 1983 Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, the Costume Institute’s exhibition will profile a living artist—Comme des Garçons’ very own Rei Kawakubo.
The show, entitled Art of the In-Between, will feature around 120 different pieces from Kawakubo’s more than 40 years designing for Comme des Garçons. According to the Gala website, the exhibit will be grounded by eight themes: “Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Design/Not Design, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes.” Along with the exhibit itself will come the fêted red carpet debut, forecasted by fashion pundits to be one of the most avant-garde of all time.
So who is Rei Kawakubo and why have you never heard of her? Born in Japan in 1942, Kawakubo never actually studied fashion design. Instead, her education at Keio University in the History of the Aesthetics led her first to an advertising position at a textile firm before transitioning into a stylist role. Upon discovering that she couldn’t find the clothes she was envisioning, she began in 1969 to design her own. Kawakubo’s label, Comme des Garçons was founded a few years later in 1973.
Rei Kawakubo’s design aesthetic, with its strong undercurrent of feminism, frees clothing from accepted style conventions. Classic “ladylike” design details—frills, ruffles, and bustles—are distorted and reinvented as entire garments. Her approach to volume and proportion rebuffs strict tailoring and notions of figure flattery. Indeed, Kawakubo pursues all manner of asymmetry and irregularity.
While Comme des Garçons was met with incredible domestic success, the brand’s initial entry into the Western fashion scene, however, was decidedly more dubious. In 1981, the first Paris collection was dismissively regarded as “ragged chic”. With time, Kawakubo has come to lovingly reside as fashion’s greatest counter culture icon. She has been lauded for reinventing black, her runway shows are intense sensory-scapes of sound and silence, and she leads a famously private life away from the rich glories of the rest of the fashion world. However, beyond anything else, Kawakubo’s work embodies the perspective that fashion is an art form that should be provocative and mind-bending, always progressive and ever experimental.
Check out some of our favorite Comme des Garçons looks from over the years.
Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear, Yannis Vlamos/Indigital.tv | Source
Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear, Yannis Vlamos/Indigital.tv | Source
Fall 1993 Ready-to-Wear, Condé Nast Archive | Source
Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear, Kim Weston Arnold/Indigital.tv | Source
Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear, Yannis Vlamos/Indigitalimages.com | Source
Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear, Yannis Vlamos/GoRunway.com | Source
One of our favorite aspects about Rei Kawakubo’s work is her fearless approach to pattern. Kawakubo certainly isn’t afraid of making multiple statements. As seen in the look above, a traditional floral print is effectively employed to amp up the intensity of the piece’s bold silhouette.
Take inspiration from the Comme des Garçons attitude and try using your WeaveUp designs in unexpected and exciting ways. We’d love to see pictures of your avant-garde creations—post in the comments!