So the Met Gala is happening in New York on Monday, which is Tuesday in Australia. You may know this. Especially since the movie The First Monday in May beamed the glitz, the glamour and Rihanna in Anna Wintour-approved canary yellow satin into cinemas in 2016. The Met Gala is the fashion party of the year.
Celebrities descend on the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the red carpet gala, which celebrates the annual big ticket Costume Institute exhibition. This year it’s all about Commes des Garçons.
Don’t worry. If you don’t know your stuff about this cult fashion name, here’s a cheat sheet:
1# Commes des Garçons is an avant-garde Japanese fashion label, even though the name is French. Go figure. It means, like the boys.
2# The designer Rei Kawakubo is 74-years-old. She is an actual genius, and an enigma. You pronounce her first name “ray”, as in sunshine. She rarely gives interviews, but remains one of fashion’s most influential, important and original designers.
3# It’s the second time its 46-year history that the Met Gala show has focused on a single living designer. The first was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983. There was blockbuster show on Alexander McQueen in 2011 but that happened posthumously.
4# Kawakubo likes black. A lot. In fact she, along fellow Japanese designers Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe, ushered in the whole idea of ‘fashion black’ in the 1980s.
5# Kawakubo is all about imagination. And books and ideas and the cross-pollination of things like the visual arts, dance, architecture, philosophy, society, the whole damn thing.
6# She is very, very smart. So smart in fact that heaps of fashion people can’t understand the thinking behind her conceptual collections, but pretend to anyway, because they want to seem smart themselves. AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT? Fake it, till you make it.
7# The title of the Met exhibition is “Rei Kawakubo /Commes des Garçons: Art of the In-between.” According to curator Andrew Bolton, the exhibition is a riddle “you are not meant to solve.” Ha!
8# There is an accessible aspect to Commes des Garçons. You can find it in its cheaper, streetwear-inspired line called Play. You might have seen the red heart motif with eyes that appears on things like striped T-shirts and sneakers. It’s cute! Ain’t nothing conceptual about that.
9# The runway is another matter. Commes des Garçons’s most recent collection, ready-to-wear Autumn ’17, re-invented the human form and female proportions. There were strange geometric forms. What looked like inflated corsets, which encased the arms. Models were swaddled in bulbous padding reminiscent of loft insulation and car-windscreen reflectors. It was all very Leigh Bowery. (*He was a London-based Australian performance artist and club kid who appears to have been a frequent inspiration for Kawakubo.)
Now, these aren’t clothes that your everyday starlet can carry off. So tomorrow sure is going to be fun. (Red carpet kick off at 9am!)
Check in with marieclaire.com.au all day for our coverage. Follow Clare on Instagram