The Met Gala: Fashion's Biggest Night Out

By Shonette Reed

When it comes to the world of fashion, the first Monday in May is the most anticipated of the year. The Met Gala, an annual fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, is themed after influential designers and movements in fashion. This years Met Gala theme: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: The Art of the In-Between.”

Placing fashion–old and new–into a contemporary context, Hamish Bowles, Vogue’s International Editor-at-Large, observes that the Gala has become a reflection of our changing culture overtime. And in that, has continually worked to be viewed as an art form outside of 19th century traditional art forms: painting, architecture, and sculpture.

Starting in 1948, the Met Gala was a small and intimate meeting. Before Anna Wintour took over as chair, Diana Vreeland was a special consultant for the Met Gala and Costume Institute after leaving Vogue. It was in 1971 that the illustrious themes we have the chance to follow began. With this year’s theme celebrating the famous Japanese designer, Rei Kawakubo.

Rei Kawakubo, now 74-years-old, founded Comme des Garçons in 1969. Though successful today, Rei walks to her own drum, having never studied fashion like many may assume. Rei Kawakubo studied art and literature at Keio University, a Japanese private university located in Minato, Tokyo. In 1967, she became a fashion stylist and out of frustration of being unable to find the clothes that she wanted to shoot, decided to start her own label. She is the only second living designer to have a solo show at the Met.

The Met Gala, also known as the “party of the year”, brings together a variety of celebrities, interpreting the theme through their sartorial looks. These celebrities pay $30,000 per ticket to raise funds for the Costume Institute. It is on this night that they get the first look at the current Costume Institute exhibit held at the Met. This year’s exhibit featuring the work of Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, will showcase about 120 of her womenswear creations from the early 1980s.

It's through Rei Kawakubo's designs that she is slowly putting the question of "Is fashion art?" to rest.

The Rei Kawakubo exhibit will be opened to the public at the Met from May 4 - Sept. 4, 2017.

Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, for The New Yorker.

Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, for The New Yorker.