Met Fifth Avenue
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute
1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
Through September 4, $12-$25
Many art lovers have accidentally wandered into the Comme des Garçons flagship store in Chelsea, thinking it was a gallery. So in turn, the Met Costume Institute exhibition “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” comes complete with a fashion counter with items available for purchase. The show itself, celebrating the unique and innovative design sense of Tokyo-born designer and Comme des Garçons founder Rei Kawakubo, is utterly delightful, fancifully arranged in geometric white “closets” that offer colorful treats throughout its winding path, evoking her concepts of emptiness (mu) and space (ma). Many of the pieces are more objet d’art than wearable outfit, and that dichotomy is reflected in the organization of the exhibit, which is divided into “Absence/Presence,” “Design/Not Design,” “Fashion/Antifashion,” “Model/Multiple,” “High/Low,” “Then/Now,” “Self/Other,” “Object/Subject,” and “Clothes/Not Clothes.” Kawakubo, who recently turned seventy-five, notes, “My clothes and the spaces they inhabit are inseparable — they are one and the same. They convey the same message, and the same sense of values.” Pieces from the 1997 ready-to-wear collection “Body Meets Dress — Dress Meets Body” stand out in a dazzling red. One dress from “The Future of Silhouette” is made of brown paper, two others of white synthetic wadding in an unusual shape, with the mannequins sporting Brillo-y silver hairstyles. (The faceless heads and wild wigs are by Julien d’Ys.) A black polyester lace and net dress from “Ceremony of Separation” seems to have escaped from a horror movie. And a group of “Ballerina Motorbike” jackets and skirts are, per Kawakubo, “Harley-Davidson loves Margot Fonteyn.” The show also features clothes from such other collections as “Bad Taste,” “Clustering Beauty,” “Adult Punk,” “Round Rubbber,” “Abstract Excellence,” and “Not Making Clothing.” In 2012, Kawakubo said, “Personally, I don’t care about function at all. . . . When I hear ‘where could you wear that?’ or ‘it’s not very wearable’ or ‘who would wear that?’ to me it’s just a sign that someone missed the point.” Don’t miss the point at this rad show, which continues at the Met through September 4. In addition, on September 1 from 5:00 to 9:00, “MetFridays: In-Between Fashion” features a fashion design contest involving undergrad and graduate students, a panel discussion with Greg Foley, Phil Oh, and Shelley Fox, a photo booth, drop-in art workshops, and a party with music by DJ Reborn.