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03/05/2017

Honored in New Met Exhibition

 

Honored in New Met Exhibition

If you are someone who likes a lot of guidance and explanation at the museum, you might want to dramatically recalibrate your expectations before heading into "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between," the lavishly presented new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

Arriving in a brilliant white space containing a series of geometric structures, you'll find no one pointing you in the right direction, and no explanatory text next to the garments. That's because for Kawakubo, the revered Japanese designer who's been reinventing her clothes for nearly a half-century — to the point that she no longer calls them clothes, but "objects for the body" — there is no right answer.

"I don't like to explain the clothes," the Comme des Garcons founder, now 74, was quoted as saying in 2013. "The clothes are just as you see them and feel them."

There is a bit of guidance available. Andrew Bolton, star curator of this and other blockbuster Met fashion exhibits, has provided paper brochures with maps and context, though he cheerfully welcomes you to ditch them. And even this much explanation for the visitor was a hard-fought compromise with Kawakubo.

"It was a battle," Kawakubo says in an interview with Bolton. "Are you going to write that we fought?"

They seem to have fought over various things. Showing a reporter around the exhibit a few days before opening, Bolton noted that although Kawakubo approached him 18 months ago saying she was ready for a show, she was resolutely opposed to a retrospective. She hates focusing on the past, because she has moved on.

"She finds it physically painful to look at her work. So, that took months of negotiation," he said.

Fans of "Comme," as fashion-lovers call it, would have been "screaming in my ears," Bolton added, if he hadn't included collections like "Broken Bride," where Kawakubo explored the concept of marriage, and "Ballerina Motorbike," in which she juxtaposed the very feminine — a filmy pink tutu — with the tough, muscular look of a black motorcycle jacket.

Kawakubo actually wanted to focus exclusively on the last few years of designs — following her second "rupture" in 2014, when she said she was no longer making "clothing" in the sense of wearable garments. (Her first rupture, in 1979, is known as the moment she decided to ditch her early, folklore-inflected designs and "start from zero.") "This was where her mind was at," Bolton said. He convinced her otherwise, and sprinkled through the show are juxtapositions of the older, more functional clothes, and the new.

Pointing out a 2009 dress, he noted: "This still has arms, still has legs, still has openings." Then, pointing to a post-2014 version: "Now you see the priority of form over function." An example of her later work is three jackets, fused into one — with two of the jackets forming sleeves of the central jacket.

It is rare that the Costume Institute focuses on a single living designer — the last was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983. But Bolton had long wanted to work with Kawakubo. "For me Rei is not only the most important and influential designer of the last 40 years, but the most inspirational at the same time," he says. "Her influence is enormous — especially on the vocabulary of fashion that we now take for granted, like asymmetry, like the unfinished, like black as a fashionable color."

"She summarizes the last 50 years of fashion. She's that important."

The exhibit, which launches with the glittery Met gala Monday night, is divided into nine themes, all of them dualities in Kawakubo's work: Fashion/Anti-Fashion, High/Low, Design/Not Design, and Clothes/Not Clothes are a few.

Passing by one display, Bolton notes that the collection is one of Kawakubo's favorites — and then stops himself. "Well, she wouldn't say favorite — she would say 'least dissatisfying.'" That 1997 collection was called "Body Meets Dress — Dress Meets Body." Garments in gingham-like fabric are stretched over bizarre protrusions on the body, coming out from the stomach or the back or the hip.

"I didn't expect them to be easy garments to be worn every day," Kawakubo has said about that collection. "It is more important... to translate thoughts into action rather than to worry about if one's clothes are worn in the end." (Of course, she has made more commercial collections that end up in stores, if not the runway.)

Scurrying around the exhibit the other day, Bolton described a classic anxiety dream he'd had two nights earlier: The exhibit opened, but it was in a huge airplane hangar — and nobody came. No one at all. And Kawakubo, too, has not been immune to anxiety about the show. "Do you think the space is disorienting?" she asks him during the interview. "Do you think people will get lost?"

Getting lost, he assures her, is rather the point.

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29/04/2017

the week’s fashion trends

 

Going up

Coach x Rodarte Specifically the sequinned biker. Dreamy.

Naki Depass Everywhere at the AW17 shows. Google her now.

Acne Bla Konst No, this is not the new hygge, it’s Acne’s reworked jeans collection. Refined to three styles – baggy, straight and skinny – that’s the kind of minimalism we can get behind.

The dressing-to-match-art Insta Any inspiration for how to look more like a Jeff Koons sculpture is welcome.

ByOcular New glasses line launched by retail genius Caren Downie, ex-Finery. Think the artiest take on specs. We like the Boffin shape - clever in both name and style.

Withnail & I Forget Camberwell carrots. Celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary in great coats, foppish shirts and unkempt hair. Delightful weekend in the country optional.

Going down

Brooklyn Beckham’s first tattoo We weren’t expecting a picture of a Native American chief.

Pet hair watches We love pets. But harvesting their fur for a personalised timepiece? Not so much.

Kendall Jenner’s ‘jeans’ Deconstruction taken to its logical point or just frightful?

Avocados Avocaderia – an avo-dedicated restaurant – has opened in Brooklyn. When something sounds like a Kimmy Schmidt storyline you know it’s over.

Charcoal Copper is our bathroom cabinet mineral. Appaz helps increase collagen in skin.

Kale Brussels sprouts are the thing now, according to Harry Styles.

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27/04/2017

A look at the rising popularity

 

A look at the rising popularity and why labels are turning to the Middle East for inspiration

Modest dress is enjoying a renaissance. Fashion brands are increasingly embracing the long-held view shared by those in region that style does not have to equate to revealing a lot of flesh.

Building on the foundations of sensuality over sexuality, and demure over décolletage, the West is finally catching up with the Middle East in terms of tasteful dressing.

Women in the Middle East have long expressed their fashion taste through layering and soft silhouettes, with abayas that brush across the hips and catch at the wrist.

Dressing in clothes that are cut to conceal rather than reveal, the focus is shifted so a glimpse of ankle becomes more potent than a bare torso paraded for all the world to see.

Who has not gazed in awe as a woman sashays past, swathed from head to toe, as graceful as a swan? The difference now is that the runways in New York, Milan, Paris and London have caught on to the elegance such flowing lines convey.

Fashion has always acted as a barometer of attitudes in society, reflecting mood and thoughts, expressed through the length of hemlines and tightness of cut.

The severe tailoring of wartime Europe, for example, was swept away by Christian Dior and his New Look of 1948. Using yards and yards of fabric in the skirt, it was a heartfelt rebellion against European post-war rationing and austerity.

Now, as hemlines have dropped and outlines softened to the point of billowing, fashion is more gentle and more forgiving. By choosing loose-fitting and comfortable outfits, women with the busiest of lives can now get on with their day, freed from the tyranny of tight-fitting "body-con" styles.

Perhaps the timing of this is no coincidence. In an age of political division with leaders seeking to drive wedges between countries and races, the fashion industry is embracing a code of dress associated with the Islamic Middle East, and helping blur the boundaries that separate us.

"The misconception about women who cover being oppressed is being challenged," says Gaelle Dalati, the communications manager of fashion house Symphony Style Group.

"This is a chance to explain that modest dressing is about focusing on the inside, not showing off the outside. It is about dressing beautifully and elegantly and respecting who you are.

"Instead of modest dressing being seen in a negative light, now it is very fashionable – it is so elegant. It has changed the way people think about how we dress."

With more than half the population in the region under the age of 25, and with growing spending power, the GCC market is too large to ignore.

"International brands have picked up on this trend and have created collections catering to the modest woman – brands such as DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier, Zara, Mango, Uniglo," says Bong Guerrero, the chief executive of the Dubai style platform Fashion Forward.

"Modest fashion is one of the industry’s fastest-growing sectors and the demand is increasing for this style of clothing.

"According to the 2015-2016 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, Muslims spend approximately US$230 billion (Dh844bn) annually on clothing, which is projected to grow to $327 billion by 2019."

With such large sums at stake, it is no surprise that Italian giant Dolce & Gabbana unveiled an abaya collection last year or that sports company Nike last month announced plans to release a sports hijab.

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