Village Voice 05.10.2017 : Page 12

14 May 10 -May 16, 2017 VILLAGE Rei Kawakubo’s Radical Vision A new exhibition at the Met delves into the world of the reclusive designer behind Comme des Garçons, who has turned art into fashion and fashion into a kind of faith BY JENNIFER KRASINSKI D esigner Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons has always maintained that fash-ion never interested her. Clothes are her sole preoccupation; her passion, the New. “All my effort is oriented toward giving form to clothes that have never been seen before,” she once said, and she has done exactly that for nearly fifty years. An avant-gardian who’s managed to create a $280 million empire, she has designed otherworldly garments that cross a spectrum from sculpture to screw-ball. To wear Comme des Garçons is to dress to be seen — to be looked at — yet remain a hidden commodity. Dresses without arms, or padded in the least flat-tering of places; sweaters run through with holes; gowns constructed so they nearly stand by them-selves; veils through which a wearer can’t see: Kawakubo reimagines the way clothes function, the way they reconfigure a figure. “Can’t rational people create mad work?” she challenged Judith Thurman in a 2005 New Yorker profile. Which is to say that the incongruity of Kawakubo’s mind is that she doesn’t think apart from the world; rather, her radical visions are the result of a profound thinking inside of it. “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” is an exquisite exhibition celebrat-ing Kawakubo’s career as a designer of women’s clothing. It is also one of the most refined and un-erring shows of fashion that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has put on in recent years, including such must-see exhibitions as “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” and “China: Through the Looking Glass,” which drew unprecedented numbers of visitors to the Met. Andrew Bolton, the cu-rator in charge of the Costume Institute, who was responsible for both those blockbusters, collabo-rated with Kawakubo in designing and curating the show. This fact would simply testify to the sovereign precision with which she oversees her work, but as it happens she’s the only living de-signer to receive a solo exhibition at the museum since Diana Vreeland brought Yves Saint Laurent

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