This week, I went to the new fashion exhibit, Art of the In-Between, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit showed work by fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, the founder of Comme des Garçons, which translates to “as the boys”. Rei Kawakubo studied fine arts and aesthetics at Keio University in Tokyo, but she does not have a traditional fashion education. She began by designing clothes for women and later began designing men’s clothing as well. She focuses on mobility and comfort in her designs.
Rei Kawakubo challenges our western definition of beauty. When you walk into the exhibit, the first garments that you see are these red dresses. The cloth is wrapped and layered in such a way that there are large lumps that distort the figure. I immediately noticed how this strayed from the traditional hourglass figure one sees accentuated in a majority of woman’s couture. Rei’s designs each have a unique shape that has nothing to do with highlighting one’s physical features. They are works of art that happen to be wearable. Rei once said,“For something to be beautiful, it doesn’t have to be pretty.” This is exactly what I observed. Every garment I saw had beauty and power, but none of them were pretty. “Beauty is whatever one thinks is beautiful.” – Rei Kawakubo, I agree that beauty is subjective, and everyone has a unique definition of what beauty means. Art of the In-Between made me think about my own definitions of beauty and how beauty is sometimes inexplicable.
Since I am taking a menswear class, I noticed her use of men’s clothing. There were multiple garments that she had created by cutting up suits and reconfiguring them. After being disassembled, the garments no longer seemed to have genders. I enjoy observing how designers combine men and woman’s couture. I myself want to experiment using classic men’s suit jacket collars in woman’s clothing.
I also noticed her use of fabric and color. She used a lot of blacks, reds, pinks, and whites which seemed influenced by classic European styles. I also was reminded of Victorian era dresses by a few of the garments. I think this was due to their heavy and luxurious fabric.
The exhibit will be open until September 4, so I encourage you all to go check it out for yourselves!