Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between
Yale University Press
Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is widely recognized as among the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years. Since her Paris debut in 1981, she has blurred the divide between art and fashion and transformed customary notions of beauty, identity, and the body.
Her fashions not only stand apart from the genealogy of clothing but also resist definition and confound interpretation. They can be read as Zen koans or riddles devised to ba e, bemuse, and bewilder. At the heart of her work are the koan mu (emptiness) and the related notion of ma (space), which coexist in the concept of the “in-between.” This reveals itself as an aesthetic sensibility that establishes an unsettling zone of visual ambiguity and elusiveness.
NYC’s MET Costume Institute's spring 2017 exhibition examined the work of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, known for her avant-garde designs and ability to challenge conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and fashionability.
The thematic show featured approximately 140 examples of Kawakubo's womenswear for Comme des Garçons dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collections, many with heads and wigs created and styled by Julien d'Ys.
The galleries illustrated the designer's revolutionary experiments in "in-betweenness" – i.e. the space between boundaries.
Objects were organized into nine aesthetic expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo's work:
Kawakubo broke down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness.
As one who is remotely familiar with Kawakubo’s oeuvre, the show was challenging, with the astonishing garments, installation design and catalog forming an unrivaled juggernaut breaking down barriers between art and fashion, that is in book form articulated by Andrew Bolton and photography by Nicholas Alan Cope, Inez & Vinoodh, Katerina Jebb, Kazumi Kurigami, Ari Marcopoulos, Craig McDean, Brigitte Niedermair, Paolo Roversi, and Collier Schorr
This catalogue is meant to accompany The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition, which was centered around Kawakubo’s definition of fashion:
“What I’ve only ever been interested in are clothes that one has never seen before, that are completely new, and how in what way they can be expressed. Is that called fashion? I don’t know the answer.” - Rei Kawakubo.
This lavishly illustrated publication weaves an illuminating narrative around Kawakubo’s experiments in oppositions and the spaces between boundaries.
It reveals how her designs occupy the spaces between the aforementioned dualities - which have come to be seen as natural rather than social or cultural - and how they resolve and dissolve binary logic. Kawakubo regards her fashions and their environments as a Gesamtkunstwerk, i.e. a “total work of art.” This synthesis of the exhibition and this book is therefore designed as a complete expression of the Comme des Garc?ons “universe.” It is intended to be a holistic, immersive experience, facilitating a personal engagement with Kawakubo’s emissions.
Brilliant new photographs of more than 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear for Comme des Garçons accompanied by Kawakubo’s commentary on her designs and process reveal her conceptual and challenging aesthetic as rarely done before.
A chronology of Kawakubo’s career provides additional context, and an insightful conversation with the author offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of this Japanese fashion visionary.
The book includes a bonus foldout poster featuring 2 Dimensions, autumn/winter 2012–13 and Invisible Clothes, spring/summer 2017.
A book that is minimal, arresting, and impossibly chic eye candy photography not just for hardcore fashion aficionados but one that can be appreciated by many artistic disciplinarians and one that gives insight into Kawakubo's process and thinking.
Scene Point Blank readers can used the discount voucher code “BCLUB17” at the checkout to apply a 15% discount at the Footprint Books’ website: www.footprint.com.au
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