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DESIGN & STYLE

The NGV's New Free Exhibition Is Dedicated to Japanese Fashion Label Comme des Garcons

Explore almost five decades of innovative work from groundbreaking designer Rei Kawakubo.
By Libby Curran
October 29, 2019
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The NGV's New Free Exhibition Is Dedicated to Japanese Fashion Label Comme des Garcons

Explore almost five decades of innovative work from groundbreaking designer Rei Kawakubo.
By Libby Curran
October 29, 2019
  shares

It's safe to say Rei Kawakubo, founder of Japanese label Comme des Garçons, is up there among the fashion world's most influential designers. Kawakubu launched the seminal label back in 1969 and held its debut show in Paris in 1981 — now, a selection of the trailblazer's best works will be brought together for Australia's first exhibition dedicated to Comme des Garçons, on show at NGV International from Thursday, October 31.

Visitors to Collecting Comme will have the chance to get up close and personal with over 65 of Kawakubo's visionary outfits, in a roll-call of highlights plucked from over 40 different collections. They'll be complemented by a further 13 standout designs by two of Kawakubo's protégés: Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara. It's an impressive haul of groundbreaking fashion, with many pieces donated by collector Takamasa Takahashi and others on loan from his personal collection.

Looking back across almost five decades of Kawakubo's celebrated design work, Collecting Comme speaks to a pretty incredible career, defined by a penchant for the experimental and a subversive approach to fashion and beauty.

Comme des Garcons, Tokyo, Rei Kawakubo, born 1942: Jumper, top, skirt and apron pouch, 1982 Holes collection autumn-winter. Collection of Takamasa Takahashi.

Revisit the oversized, textural and asymmetrical designs of early 80s Comme des Garçons, including purposely distressed garments like 1982's infamous hole-and-dropped-stitch Sweater from the Holes collection. Later works show how Kawakubo adopted punk elements and unconventional fabrics to question perceptions of women's social roles and redefine taste, while proposing a new relationship between our bodies and clothes.

You'll even spy three designs from 1997's radical Body Meets Dress-Dress Meets Body collection — a runway show memorable for the polyurethane bulges unashamedly visible beneath the models' garments. More recent works include a bright red sculptural stunner from 2014 collection Blood and Roses.

Collecting Comme is just the latest fashion-focused exhibition to hit the state, with the NGV home to 150 haute couture pieces for The Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift earlier this year, and Bendigo Art Gallery currently showing Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion.

Collecting Comme is on display at NGV International from Thursday, October 31, 2019, until Sunday, July 26, 2020.

Top images: Comme des Garcons, Tokyo, Rei Kawakubo, born 1942: Cape, dress and shoes 1999 Transformed Glamour collection autumn-winter; Jacket, blouse and skirt 2005 Broken Bride collection autumn-winter; Jacket, bra, dress, hat, socks and shoes 2008 Bad Taste collection autumn-winter; Half dress and shorts 2012 Crush collection spring-summer. Collection of Takamasa Takahashi.

Published on October 29, 2019 by Libby Curran

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