My fashion loves, rejoice! Today’s the most wonderful time of the year for all the fashionable trendsetters, tastemakers, and influencers. The first Monday in May, and we all know what it means.
Every year, the Met Gala takes place, where A-list models, celebrities and musicians come out for the annual charitable event. For the first time in a few years, I won’t be covering the event for anyone, but rather sitting back and enjoying.
Of course, my main excitement for the relaxation is because I am so excited for this year’s exhibit and theme, dedicated to the 74-year-old Japanese designer, Rei Kawakubo. Though you may not know the name, you’ve certainly seen her influence. Often revered as one of fashion’s most revered creative visionaries of the 21st century, the avant-garde creator is the founder of Comme des Garçons (French for “like some boys”). Of course the brand has traveled outside the exclusive walls of fashion elitism; nowadays, you’ll hear the brand’s name in a slew of patrons to the designer gods, not to mention the Hip-Hop industry where rappers such as 2 Chainz can’t deny its enviable threads.
I become obsessed with Kawakubo almost 12 years ago, long before I even knew that my life would take a turn into the sartorial notions of her industry. Finding an article that had been ripped out from the seemingly pristine papers it found itself within, I found this beautiful article on her from The New Yorker, opening my mind up to the idea that fashion was more than just clothing, but rather, a radical and political statement .
This is the first time since 1983 that the Met has dedicated an exhibit to a designer that’s, well…still alive. Kawakubo’s exhibit,“Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between”, will use 150 examples of Kawakubo’s work to explore how the designer has managed to straddle and subvert established dualities. None can deny the amazing work of Kawakubo, whose monumental aesthetic in fashion not only defied norms, but, to this fashion girl, showed that the conventional was mundane. Speaking to The Independent in 1995, Kawakubo stated that “the meaning is that there is no meaning.” Whatever that meant, it lifted off any concerns of delivery or need of explanation. Things simply were what they were. And THAT was a level and form of freedom. If you were different, embrace it at all costs. Be the misfit you were meant to be.
Edward Enninful told Another magazine in 2010 that, “she proved that you could be an outsider and still be influential, that you could follow your instincts and still make a difference.” In the same issue, Bjork cited her as proof that “it is possible to be that brave, that it is possible to keep one’s integrity.”
“Going around museums and galleries, seeing films, talking to people, seeing new shops, looking at silly magazines, taking an interest in the activities of people in the street, looking at art, traveling: all these things are not useful,” she wrote in a 2013 manifesto for System magazine. “I only can wait for the chance for something completely new to be born within myself.”
However, Kawakubo’s night will not just shine a light on her, but of the amazing brand she has created, which she is undeniably hoping will get the betterment of attention. “I was not so happy at first. I never wanted to do a retrospective, and it ended up like that,” she told the Business of Fashion in a recent interview. “It’s a Met show for Comme des Garçons, not a Comme des Garçons show at the Met. Compromises were made.”
What will always fascinate me about Kawakubo is her constant looking at revamping herself. In a way, one might take away that we all should constantly be looking at how we can improve, mold, and change shape. It seems when one milestone is hit, it is time to reset the gauge for the next marker. May we all eternally find our mark, and strive for greatness. This honor is so deserved and I can’t wait to see what pieces are chosen for the collection.