Fashion designer Rei Kawakubo insists she is not an artist, although her brand is featured in a comprehensive exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) here. She says the concept of the...

Comme des Garcons founder says she felt mostly rejected

postato da nedress il 10/07/2017
Categoria: Italia - tags: fashion

Fashion designer Rei Kawakubo insists she is not an artist, although her brand is featured in a comprehensive exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) here.

She says the concept of the exhibition has nothing to do with the thinking behind Comme des Garcons fashion.

And despite the fact that Comme des Garcons has become one of the most globally recognizable Japanese fashion brands, Kawakubo said her work had been largely rejected for many years.

But she said she is confident that the installation and exhibits based on a shared concept “came together well” at the show in New York.

The Comme des Garcons exhibition is the biggest show of the year for the MET’s Costume Institute. It is only the museum’s second solo show on a living fashion designer, following one in 1983 for Yves Saint Laurent.

Kawakubo was born in 1942, and her Comme des Garcons first participated in Paris Fashion Week in 1981.

She shared her thoughts on the show and her work in an Asahi Shimbun interview held before the exhibition opened in May.

Titled “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between,” the exhibition features about 140 garments from the past four decades.

Kawakubo herself designed the show’s maze-like installation, including the small compartments and layered space dividers.

“In blurring the art/fashion divide, Kawakubo asks us to think differently about clothing,” MET director Thomas Campbell said.

Each section contains nine sets of opposing concepts, such as “Self/Other” and “Clothes/Not Clothes.” The garments represent the “in-betweenness” of those ideas.

“The concept of ‘in-between’ that the exhibition curator suggested is not my own,” she said. “I just wanted people to look at the clothes closely.”

She was also adamant that it is not a “retrospective” show, and she explained why she designed the installation herself.

“I agreed to do this show on the conditions that it would not be treated as a retrospective and that I would be allowed to show my garments in a way that was different from ordinary fashion designer exhibitions,” Kawakubo said.

She said she wanted to produce a setting that enables viewers to “have a conversation with the garments.”

“At least for the installation design, I could work on it myself and achieve what I visualized,” she said.

Asked if the concept of “in-between” has been a part of her designs, Kawakubo said “not at all.”

“I am only trying to create something that has never existed. The boundaries between men and women, or east and west, have nothing to do with me,” she said. “But, as the result of simultaneously building up curation and installation ideas based on a shared theme, I think the exhibition came together well.”

When asked what the exhibition means to her, the Comme des Garcons founder said she hoped it would be a model example for the holding of future overview exhibitions.

“We would not like it if they were curated in a way completely different to the philosophy of Comme des Garcons,” she said.

Despite saying that the curation concept is not hers, Kawakubo did appreciate the chance to show her avant-garde works at the conservative MET.

“I think it was meaningful that someone like us, who goes ‘off-the-road,’ and someone more traditional on the mainstream had the opportunity to cross paths.”

She said those who maintain long-established notions probably rejected plans for the show, and that the curator told her he had a hard time winning over traditionalists on the idea for the exhibition.

“I feel I was never highly praised by the majority of people in my 40-year career,” Kawakubo said.

When the reporter expressed doubts over her claim, she continued: “I was always unwelcome by half of the people. At Japanese department stores, it is still rare to see a store of a (globally acclaimed) Japanese designer brand in the same floor space as high-end foreign brands. In this sense, too, I think what I have been doing has started to gain some understanding.”

She said the values of people who protect historical traditions and authority are in complete contrast to Comme des Garcons’ values, which reject the idea of being the same as others.

“I believe it took as long as 40 years to bring the two sides together,” she said.

However, she said the apparent spread of xenophobic attitudes in the United States could unravel such progress.

“Recently, the trend seems increasingly to be going the other way. This exhibition may have not been realized in the United States had it been scheduled a year later,” Kawakubo said. “It is no good if such thinking spreads in the world of fashion.”

Some said Kawakubo might now be recognized as an artist for having an exhibition shown at the MET.

She rejected this idea.

“A fashion designer is not an artist,” she said. “Fashion is creation, but it always relates to business. To keep it simple, for me, fashion is a business.

“An artist, of course, has to sell artwork, too, but my job is to create new things and make them into products that can form a viable business.”

Asked how she herself defines “Rei Kawakubo,” she described her mission of constantly looking for something new. “However, for this show, I looked at the garments I have produced, and thought, ‘What should I do next?’”

So what are her future plans?

“I think I have fewer and fewer cards left to play,” Kawakubo said. “Moving forward further from now on is a bit burdensome.”

“Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between” will run at the MET in New York through Sept. 4.Read more at:marieprom | cocktail dresses uk