“One doesn’t want fashion to look ridiculous, silly, or out of step with the times – but you do want designers that make you think, that make you look at fashion differently. That’s how fashion changes. If it doesn’t change, it’s not looking forward. And that’s important to me.” ~ Anna Wintour
Every year from May until September the Met’s Costume Institute hosts a fashion exhibit featuring old, new, and everything in between designers. Kicking off with what is essentially the Oscars of Fashion put on by Vanity Fair and the Devil Wear’s Prada herself Anna Winter, celebrities descend upon the museum in their interpretation of the seasons themed exhibit.
With all my traveling, it took me a little longer then it should have, to get to the fashion exhibit and I admit I wasn’t sure WHAT to think before hand.
Featured this year, is Rei Kawakubo who designs womenswear for Comme des Garçons. While her style is very avant-garde, it also pushes the boundaries of what fashion is, of what it represents, of that space of the In-Between. Many of her designs are fashion in the truest sense of the form. Art you can wear. Yet this exhibit also represents the dualities that come with it.
Is it fashion or is it just outlandish wear for the catwalk?
Their are exhibits like the James Charles and even Alexander McQueen that effortlessly blend art and fashion creating masterpieces you could theoretically wear on and off the runway.
Many of Kawakubo’s designs are NOT that.
They are open more to interpretation then something you could walk down Fifth Avenue in (though I am sure some people would try)
Yet the symbolism was something I connected too on a very visceral level. Being a Gemini and having that dual personality, I related to the in-Betweens each piece represented, the Life/Death, Child/Adult, Clothes/Not Clothes. The line of what is fashion and what isn’t fashion, even going so far as to be interpreted as political or not political.
Pausing and Pondering; The In-Betweens
In what is an incredibly volatile climate of late, where art interpretation is brought into question as to whether it is TOO political or whether it isn’t enough, this exhibit forces one to pause and ponder.
In other words it DOES do art’s job. It DOES what fashion is MEANT to do. It illicits feeling and emotion, making us pause, to reflect on whether we really are defined by this or that. One or the other. The dualities that not just represent us, but cause so many of the rifts in culture, creating an us or them effect.
Much like life, this exhibit represents that neither one side or the other of the coin, is that contrary. In fact the etchings might differ from each other, but in the end it is all the same coin. Both sides do the same thing.
The statement of fashion
With slight variations on clothing, Kawakubo shows us that the In-betweens are dualities that are not so different from each other. That we can connect even when it seems so mismatched.
This exhibit takes fashion to a whole other level. One that isn’t just about looking pretty or being on trend, but that is intuitive. It is a statement about a climate where we live so hard between the labels, that we stop seeing the shades of grey. We have stopped noticing what is In-Between and only experience it on a superficial level.
Kawakubo did not just design fashion, she sent a blatant message about the divisiveness we live in today. In doing so, she showed that fashion IS art. That it isn’t something frivolous and trivial, but in fact that what we wear IS a representation of who we are. It IS a peaceful form of activism and political statement. It is a way to open dialogue, to get us to think in a conscientious yet global way, but most of all, it is a way to unite us. To break down the In-Betweens and just be.
Have you seen the exhibit? What do you think? Is fashion art? Is it a political statement? As always I love to hear from you!