Rei Kawakubo Gets You Thinking Outside The Box

Rei Kawakubo

Order / Chaos

I had never heard of the Tokyo-based designer,  Rei Kawakubo, whose work is on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Checking out any gallery of note is often what I do when I travel. Viewing art is one way of shaking up what is routine and expected. It makes room for new ideas and thoughts.

If you’ve been following my Facebook Author page, you’ll know that my husband, Robert, and I were recently in New York. It’s my sixth time there and each time I go, I uncover more layers in this amazing place, like what’s on display at ‘The Met’.

As an aside, and as many of my readers know, my debut novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, is partly set in Manhattan, and this time, I relished going to the places that my protagonist, Catherine Fitzgerald, visited before she headed to Ireland to cover the hunt for one of the lost ships of the Spanish Armada. Manhattan is a place she loves but can longer live in for various reasons. In case you’re wondering, Catherine does not go to ‘The Met’. Maybe I’ll have her visit in a sequel. 🙂

Rei Kawakubo Shakes Up Old Perceptions

Rei Kawakubo

Good Taste / Bad Taste (by Rei Kawakubo)

But I digress. What got me thinking outside the box this time was an art exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rei Kawakubo artfully installed many mannequins dressed in ways that are hard to describe and yet they make a statement that she describes as “In-betweenness”.  Is it the in-between, where we find that creative spark? The spark that ignites expression in a unique fashion.

I was particularly drawn to this exhibit not only because of its esthetics but also because I used to be a professional model. I modelled everything from inexpensive catalogue items for Eaton’s of Canada (think Macy’s) to haute couture for the travelling shows from Paris.

Rei Kawakubo

Fact / Fiction (by Rei Kawakubo)

So, fashion continues to be of interest to me even today, when many of the new designs no longer work for an older woman. Though they don’t work, I can still admire them on the young. This exhibit presented outfits that stirred my imagination. It was theatrical to say the least.

Rei Kawakubo questions fashion–what it says and what it doesn’t. The handout that was provided by the Metropolitan Museum of Art gave an overview of what she was trying to say with her work. “These …ensembles…reflect Kawakubo’s enduring preoccupation with blurring the boundaries between body and dress. Visitors are encouraged, however, to forge their own paths and experience the exhibition as a voyage of discovery.”

So Many Possibilities

Rei Kawakubo

Child / Adult (by Rei Kawakubo)

And discover I did. Rather than foist my thoughts on yours, I wonder what you see when you view these images. There are endless possibilities when we think outside the box, whether it’s through our writing, filmmaking, painting, dancing, theatre, or music. Or through what we wear and how we wear it. Design allows us to make a mark, for design is a mental plan, which again is what we do before we create and it’s also what we do when we execute what is on our minds.

Now that I’m back home, I’m itching to get going on all the writing projects I have in mind. Seeing this exhibition has freed me up that much more.

And What About You?

What helps you think outside the box? Is it travel? A piece of music? A book by another writer? A   painting? Or simply an overheard conversation? All comments are appreciated.

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5 thoughts on “Rei Kawakubo Gets You Thinking Outside The Box

  1. Jo Nell Huff

    This exhibit is certainly out of the box and out of the closet! You wrote that “design is a mental plan.” Interesting thought. Art sometimes makes me see out of the box at least. What makes me think outside the box? Perhaps travel does that for me as I get outside my “box” literally. So glad that you embraced NYC and are ready to tackle some projects.

  2. JP McLean

    I couldn’t agree more … “Viewing art is one way of shaking up what is routine and expected. It makes room for new ideas and thoughts.” Music has a similar inspirational impact on me, especially when the tune tells a moving story.

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      Joanne, it makes me want to stretch myself more. Not to be afraid about being outrageous. There is something to be said about how the extraordinary challenges our thinking.

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