Beneath the Surface

author Rei Kawakubo
written by Lea Vene

I was not so happy at first. I never wanted to do a retrospective, and it ended up like that. It is a Met show for Comme des Garçons, not a Comme des Garçons show at the Met, said Rei Kawakubo in one of her recent interviews for the Business of Fashion online portal. Rei Kawakubo openly admitted that she had always been reluctant to present her work in an ingrate form of a blockbuster retrospective exhibition. The Metropolitan Museum in New York (hereafter referred to as the Met) often hosts precisely such exhibitions, which Diana Vreeland introduced to that institution in a big way in the 1970s. She recognized the capital in fashion exhibitions which she skillfully packed into visual spectacles for the masses. She is also the first curator in the history of this institution who has curated an exhibition of a living designer (Yves Saint Laurent, 1983), which is a particularly delicate practice in the context of fashion exhibitions since it is challenging to balance the exhibition collection through direct negotiations and dialogue with the designer. Another example is the current exhibition devoted to Rei Kawakubo and her brand Comme des Garçons.