Late on Friday, US Vogue announced what we all hoped to be true – the theme of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s next Costume Institute show will be the work of Comme des Garçons and Rei Kawakubo. Set to open on the 4th of May, it will mark only the second time the institution has paid tribute to a living designer – the last occasion being in 1983, with an exhibition around the work of Yves Saint Laurent.
“In blurring the art/fashion divide, Kawakubo asks us to think differently about clothing,” Thomas P. Campbell (director and chief executive officer of The Met) toldWWD. “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.”
A giant of both high-concept fashion and of retail, Kawakubo is a fitting subject for such a show. Since first debuting in Paris in the early 1980s with a collection that scornful press soon dubbed Hiroshima Chic, the designer has redefined ideas of what fashion is or can be – her clothes are artful, unexpected and challenging, with entire collections themed around single words or phrases. Her advertising is similarly radical, rejecting the strictures placed on the genre to instead favour work by Cindy Sherman or found photography.
It will be interesting to see how guests to the Met Gala take on the theme. Popularly dubbed fashion’s equivalent to the Oscars, the ball is a charity event which marks the opening of every yearly exhibition, and sees celebrities and brands shell out cash for tickets, raising money to fund the Institute. Released in April, documentary The First Monday in May follows behind the scenes at 2015’s Ball, from questions of cultural sensitivity around the “China: Through the Looking Glass” theme to seating plan dramas. Watch the trailer below.