After months of speculation, the big spring exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute will center on the influential designer Rei Kawakubo and her line, Comme de Garçons. The museum said the show will look at her "fascination with interstitiality, or the space between boundaries," and the big Met Gala will be co-chaired by Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Anna Wintour.
The Japanese innovator is notoriously press-shy, and Women's Wear Daily suggested that she would be the subject of the spring show—which is what the celebrity-packed Met Gala fetes—back in August, "It is understood the Met showcase is to rival the scale of 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty' in 2011, one of the most visited shows in the institute’s history."
Also adding fuel to the fire was the appearance of Wintour and Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton at the CDG show earlier this month. The Times said, "Her show did seem destined for a museum somewhere, though this is nothing unusual for her. In recent seasons she has often jettisoned traditional clothes for sculptural objets, as close to puppets as to traditional clothes — but Ms. Kawakubo isn’t much interested in traditional clothes... The show was an affecting, gorgeous, bizarre pageant. At the end, the lights went down on the model Anna Cleveland, wrapped in an armless tubular creation, poking her fingers up through her spiky neckline as if to give birth to herself. When they went up, Ms. Wintour and Mr. Bolton scaled the elevated runway and ducked backstage."
"In blurring the art/fashion divide, Kawakubo asks us to think differently about clothing," said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met, in a statement. "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."
Bolton himself said, "Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years. By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time." This will be the first Costume Institute show since 1983 to focus on a living designer (that was Yves Saint Laurent).
As for the gala, Bolton told the Times, "I hope everyone dresses themselves. I hope there will be a lot of avant-garde fashion. I would love for mistakes to happen."
"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," Kawakubo said.
She gave a recent interview where she complained about social media, "Twenty years ago, it was easier to make new things than it is now. The weight of experience weighs heavily, and the expectations; everybody wants to see something they haven't seen before. Now, with social media, with too much information, with the speed of information—all that is making it harder and harder to realize the objective. What's good about many people liking the work is that when I want to collaborate or am interested in the synergy of artists working together, nobody ever says no to me when I ask to work with them."
The exhibit will open on May 4, 2017.