Another fashionable day at The Met

WAG could get used to spending the “First Monday in May” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, repeating last year’s trip to the Fifth Avenue institution for a fashion-filled spring press preview.

While we were long gone by the start of the famed Met Gala, there was still plenty of dazzle earlier in the day when the three-hour media preview was held for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

Things got off to a fun start as we chatted a bit with Simon Doonan – whom we first met in Greenwich when writing about his husband, Jonathan Adler – and savored his fashion-insider stories of Kawakubo’s work. We would go on to spot Vogue’s Hamish Bowles in the galleries, along with designers Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino and Thom Browne (in the classiest of shorts) during the first look at the show.

When all were gathered in the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court for the remarks program, we heard more about The Costume Institute’s latest exhibition, the first devoted to a living designer since 1983’s show on Yves Saint Laurent.

It’s a bold show, a thoughtful show – and a show that will likely cause some to shake their heads and others to swoon. These are not fashions you’ll find in every closet, to be sure.

The Japanese designer’s work indeed addresses the fashion/art conversation – with remarkable authority.

Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, participated in the formal program, noting that, “Rei’s work is beautiful. It transcends age and gender… It makes us look more carefully on things we take for granted.”

Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of The Costume Institute, then discussed the way the show – with some 150 examples grouped by themes in an evocative, geometric space – explores the way Kawakubo’s work challenges conventional ideas of beauty and good taste… with signature style.

“For me, there was no question Rei’s designs fit in an art museum,” he said.

He added that for decades, she has “consistently surprised and disrupted our expectations… Rei has taught us the body has no bounds.”

Walk through. See what you think. The exhibition continues through Sept. 4. The Met is at 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd Street.

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– Mary Shustack

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