Rei Kawakubo – Flirting with the Absurd

So, tomorrow is the Met Gala – if you aren’t really sure of what this is then hang around – and the theme will be ‘Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between’. I thought this was an amazing theme, it gave the celebrities (and their stylists) the chance to break the bubble of skin-tight dresses and skin baring numbers and explore the avant-garde world.

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The Met Gala is a massive benefit held on the first Monday of May every year to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume department – they are the department that have the least funding, therefore Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief of US Vogue and chairwoman of the gala) and the rest of the team hold this “party of the year“. Since Anna Wintour took over in 1999, it has become the most coveted ticket of the year, once it was a New York local philanthropic event and now it is a mix of celebrity from film, fashion, politics and business, apparently in 2004 Donald Trump proposed to wife Melania (neither attended this year).

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The Gala also signals the beginning of a new exhibit; this year, as stated by the theme, is Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons.

Who is Rei Kawakubo?

You’ve probably seen the Comme des Garcons heart illustration before – they recently did a collaboration with converse (I’ve just checked the Dover Street Market website and they all seem to be sold out) – well that is all because of Rei, she founded the fashion brand Comme des Garcons back in 1969.

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If you’ve seen any of her designs before then you will know that she creates these amazing garments that play with silhouettes, form and function, they don’t always make allowance for the wearers arms or face. Rei doesn’t follow the rules – especially the ‘clothes should be figure flattering‘ rule, she is also known for challenging society’s ideas on what defines beauty, gender and identity and goes where other designers are afraid to.

Once when designing a collection she said her inspiration was “not to make clothes”.

Forging her own path since coming onto the scene in Paris, 1981 – she has been at the forefront of many fashion movements for the last 30/40 years, often arriving early to ideas that other designers would later pick up on.

The exhibition is made up of 150 of her designs, ranging from comical and cartoonish to flirty and beautiful. Each one as outrageous as the other. Each one flirting with absurd.

Back to the event…

A ticket to the Gala this year costs around $30,000 (!) and all money goes to the Costume Department, brands will often invite celebrities to the event and dress them, Anna Wintour herself is known for inviting up-and-coming designers that won’t be able to afford the ticket. Wintour has the last say on who can attend, despite having to pay for your ticket you still have to make the cut – this generally depends on stardom, attitude and achievement.

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Guests were all encouraged to take on the theme and to think ‘avant-garde’.

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Some guests will definitely take this on board, I can imagine Rihanna has an amazing dress planned as always, however others will stick to what they know and wear generic red carpet evening gowns, I’m thinking the Kardashians…

Comme des Garcons is all about finding a new beauty and identifying it – very avant-garde.

When doing some research and looking up Rei, I found something very interesting – that she doesn’t expect nor want everyone to love her designs, if they did then what does she have left to do? If everyone came, saw and tried on the designs loving them then that’s the end. If everybody thought they were beautiful then she’d have to stop, her work would be finished. At times when she’s hada standing ovation this is when she’s been most worried.

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I found that interesting because Rei isn’t a designer that wants to be popular but one that loves making beautiful item after beautiful item for herself if not anyone else. She is obsessed with the new and doesn’t seem to like hanging onto the past – when asked what her final exhibition if curated by her would be, she said just the final item she has designed, all others are insignificant and outdated. That’s why she didn’t want the exhibit to come across as a retrospective.

I wonder what everyone will be wearing, check back in a few days and I’ll do a run down of my favourite and least favourite looks!

Hannah

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