Rei Kawakubo (b. 1942 in Japan) is a designer whose work has been described as “anti-fashion.” Her avant-garde designs persistently question, or even mock, accepted ideas about beauty, the body and reductive notions of gender.
Gathered under the umbrella of the Comme des Garçons concept (‘Like Boys,’ in French) are other Japanese designers such as Junya Watanabe and Kei Ninomiya. Kawakubo’s leadership has helped to create a “Japanese school” over the past fifty years, which has had a striking influence on fashion and contemporary art the world over. Her designs employ protuberances and other singular forms to express new ideas about beauty, but also about the world in general. She offers a daring feminist reappraisal of the body, undermining conventional stereotypes of femininity and expanding the notion of freedom itself into more abstract domains.
Part of this expansion is her creation of “non-clothing,” consisting of objects designed for the body, made sometimes of fabric, knotted together without seams, but also of cardboard, plastics, and various industrial materials.
Considered a visionary radical and a feminist hero, a designer who has reinvented the color black and freed haute couture from the coils of vanity, Kawakubo once described her creations as similar to Zen koans. Koans are apparently insoluble problems, often formulated in the form of stories, dialogues, or questions, posed by Buddhist teachers in order to demonstrate the limits of reason and intellect, and thereby to free the minds of their pupils.
In interviews, Kawakubo has pointed out that, when things are too easy, people fail to think and so to progress. The only way to make something new is never to be satisfied. “There are no limits,” she says. The creative process takes place mainly through words and the imagination.
“There’s no reference point. If anything I avoid any reference points. I feel I can succeed more in making something that hasn’t existed before if I don’t look for reference points.”
This is the first exhibition in Mexico of work by an artist who, since 1969, has been exploding conventions and breaking down the barriers between art, design, and fashion, through Comme des Garçons.
For the Museo de Arte de Zapopan, as a contemporary art museum, it is important to work along various lines of contemporary culture that tend toward creative innovation and the autonomy of ideas. We aspire to expand the limits of our space so as to include new ways of thinking that foster inclusiveness and empathy for diversity.