Arguably the biggest event on the fashion calendar (and often dubbed the Fashion Oscars) – The Met Gala is the annual fundraising gala (translation: party of the year) for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City
The Gala also marks the grand opening of Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fashion exhibition. For those who aren’t schooled in the history of the Met Gala – or haven’t seen The First Monday in May – the film set around the 2015 China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition – here’s the lowdown on the event and the newest exhibition.
This year’s exhibition is dedicated to 74-year-old Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo – the revered founder of avant garde Comme des Garçons (French for ‘like boys’). Kawakubo is the second living designer to have an exhibition entirely devoted to her work (the first being Yves Saint Laurent way back in 1983). Since 1969, Kawakubo has defied the norms of what fashion should be and has been a leader for designers creating new aesthetics about what clothing should look like and how it should be worn.
The exhibition is showing 150 pieces that are organised into nine aesthetic expressions of interstitially – examining Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/ Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. The clothing dates back to designs of the early 1980s to the most recent collections. The mannequins will also be placed at eye-level without any glass or barriers between viewers.
Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator in charge said of the exhibition, “Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years. By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”
Kawakubo herself wasn’t sold on the idea of the exhibition as she explained in a recent interview with the Business of Fashion. “I was not so happy at first. I never wanted to do a retrospective, and it ended up like that. It’s a Met show for Comme des Garçons, not a Comme des Garçons show at the Met. Compromises were made.”
Nonetheless, the Met Gala celebrated Kawak ubo’s work – with a number of celebrities and fashion designers – all dressed to fit this year’s Comme des Garçons theme. The likes of Katy Perry (one of this year’s co-chairs along with Pharrell Williams) pushed the boundaries in John Galliano for Margiela and the everfashion forward Rihanna in Comme des Garçons from the recent Fall/Winter 2016 collection. With a ticket price of $30,000 and a guest list managed by Anna Wintour herself, the red carpet is one of the best for fans of avant garde fashion.