A year in the making, today marks the grand unveiling of Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: The Art of the In-Between. Ahead of tonight’s Met Gala, where the creative elite will strut their stuff down the red carpet in an attempt to honor arguably the greatest living designer in the world, we wanted to take some time to discuss the exhibition itself. While we have already discussed the legacy of Kawakubo at length, it is important to note that Art of the In-Between is no ordinary retrospective since this is CdG we’re talking about. As press previews begin to pour out, let's break down what you need to know before seeing this year’s most important, and impressive, fashion exhibition.

Kawakubo has always been a designer that constantly moves forward and refuses to look back. In a recent Business of Fashion article, Kawakubo revealed to Tim Blanks that she originally wanted the exhibit to only cover the last four years, because she had no interest in her work from the '80s and '90s. Obviously that did not fly with curator Andrew Bolton, so Kawakubo instead chose to focus on the architecture and physical build out of the space. The result is a multi-tiered space age construction oddly reminiscent of the Guggenheim with arches and interior enclaves throughout. While some rooms resemble traditional museum alcoves, mannequins peaking out from inaccessible terraces serve as reminders that you have entered Kawakubo’s world.

As per Kawakubo’s request, the last four years of her work—marked as a departure from traditional clothing—are prominently featured throughout the exhibit, including her most recent collection The Future of Silhouette, which features massive mounds of fabric creating the appearance of living mannequins. While the exhibit invariably explores earlier work—including the fantastic 2 Dimensions dress and the monumental Humps and Bumps collection—there is clearly a running theme throughout the translucent maze: Rei Kawakubo has drastically shifted what we consider clothing.

Of course, Kawakubo’s pioneering early deconstruction techniques and black palette are featured, but the real bulk of the exhibit explores how through her forty-plus year career the woman has almost single-handedly redefined what it means to get dressed. In addition to the clothes, Bolton crafted intricate anecdotes and blurbs that act as disjointed essay, attempting to explain a woman's career who, when asked the meaning behind her clothes, famously said, The meaning is that there is no meaning.

While we all are inevitably looking forward to tonight’s gala with its epic outfits and disastrous failures, this years’ highlight is undeniably the exhibit itself aka the most comprehensive look at one of fashion’s most luminary figures.

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: The Art of the In-Between is on view from May 4-September 4 at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Images courtesty of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tags: met-gala, the-met, rei-kawakubo, comme-des-garcons