Gallery views of The Costume Institute's spring 2017 exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, curated by Andrew Bolton.
The Costume Institute's spring 2017 exhibition examines the work of Japanese 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 features approximately 140 examples of Kawakubo's womenswear for Comme des Garçons dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection.
Self/Other highlights Kawakubo's exploration of hybrid identities that blur the boundaries of conventional definitions of culture, gender, and age. The works featured in the East/West and Male/Female subsections combine Eastern and Western and masculine and feminine clothing traditions. Historically, these are loosely defined by wrapping and draping in relation to Eastern and feminine garments and by tailoring with respect to Western and masculine garments.
The fashions in Male/Female also fuse types of clothing typically associated with men and women—such as trousers and skirts—into one outfit. The creation of hybrid identities through fusion is further surveyed in Child/Adult, which focuses on ensembles that not only challenge the rules of age-appropriate dressing but also engage the concept of kawaii (cuteness)—a key aspect of Japanese popular culture defined by playfulness and performativity. The notion of kawaii is taken to its extreme in a pink floral dress featuring an oversize stuffed teddy bear camouflaged within its frills and folds.