Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons / Art of the In-Between

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Review

of an Exhibit

by Caitlin Parker

Published on May 24, 2017

  • Museum: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Visit Date: May, 2017

  • Description:

    The Costume Institute’s spring show highlighting the designs of Rei Kawakubo has made me question the overall purpose of clothing and the process of design in fashion.
    Initially I was averse to the abstract, form-defying pieces, but then I began to think of these pieces not as clothing for a body, but as works of art independent of anything else (even though Rei herself does not identify as an artist).

    Traditionally speaking, clothing is incomplete until filled by a human figure. That is when the lines, drapery and shape come to life. These pieces, from the very onset of their design, do not necessarily consider the human form but rather defy it in many ways.

    I’ll admit that I had to attend this exhibit three times in order to fully process this and begin to appreciate what Rei does in her work. Something I did love was that, despite there being little unity between Rei’s collections, the curators began and ended the show with two pieces from the same line, offering the visitor a sense of closure as they leave.

    From a practical perspective, I felt the exhibit was a bit lacking. There were no programs left to guide me through the show by the time I got there. Additionally, because of the layout of the exhibit and the “pods” in which many of the works are housed, navigating everything can be a bit difficult (and narrow) at times. Because of this unusual layout, the exhibit is not conducive to large groups nor those with trouble walking or standing for longer periods (no form of seating is provided throughout). Additionally, some of the works are placed on a second story above others, making them somewhat difficult to fully view from the ground below. This is made more difficult by the popularity of the exhibit combined with the lack of open spaces. Yet despite the space constraints, I really enjoyed the exhibit overall. It challenged my traditional take on clothing, blurring the line between art and fashion.

Latest Comments (1)

art, fashion, exhibition

by Kathleen Mclean - June 05, 2017

Thank you for your review, Caitlin. Several things stand out to me: First, you visited the exhibition three times. That is probably the effort it takes to fully experience the exhibition and write a review—good start. Second, you said it was “lacking” yet you “really enjoyed the exhibit overall.” How do you reconcile those two different effects? And third, you wrote a lovely set-up to ideas provoked by the exhibition, but you did not describe the actual exhibition and how it is organized. What elements of the exhibition brought you to your new realization? There’s room here for more elaboration.

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