While experiencing the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons Art of the In-Between show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I overheard a young British guy turn to his girlfriend and declare, “You would never wear that.” It was a profound statement that reduced this massive contemplation of colliding humanities to its core. Simultaneously, I watched the rebellious body-modified and adorned new-humans set studying each stitch as if it was a required rite of their pilgrimage. Museum going tourist from around the world seemed keen and receptive to the gravity of the questions being posed by the equations each draped mannequin posed. Intermixed within the crowd, I saw so many young trendy skate boarders wearing Comme de Garcons PLAY sneakers nonchalantly walking through the exhibition that it made me wonder if the Met had replaced the Temple of Dendur with an indoor skate park. Seeing the wide range of museum goers reverently pondering historical definitions of womanhood, gender stereotypes and objectification, the future and past of fashion, the exhilaration in rule-breaking and the use of creative expression to examine society’s temperature was a blockbuster experience. All in all I had one lingering question, will we need our arms in the future?
It seems that Rei Kawakubo answered that question in the Fall Winter 2017 Comme des Garçons runway presentation. Deemed the “future of the silhouette’ by the designer, the collection featured many cocoons that encompass the wearers arms. Bulbous round shapes, that were are times robotic and other times organic in nature, framed the legs and head of the models whose shape-shifted bodies made their natural anatomy seems absurdly simple. A red sash, felt patchwork, fabric rosettes, lace, and bows brought the collection back to present day earth with a minimalist and cheeky practicality. Within the range of fabrications from wools to plastic some of the pieces suggested a post-apocalyptic society, where materials are recycled and far from precious. What will the future hold? Will our arms be otherwise occupied under our protective bubble cloak? How will we define gender in the future? While the future is uncertain I can predict that the sneakers worn by every model in the show will be soon be sported by trendsetters worldwide. A social provocateur challenges norms. Rei Kawakubo’s visual challenges for Comme des Garcon bring thousands of questions to the examining table and they provoke discussions far beyond hem lengths. Bravo!
Story by David Lewis Taylor.