nna Wintour essentially rules the American fashion world. Designers, models, CEO’s, and journalists bow down to her. As the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, she has power over the entire scope of the fashion industry. During this season’s Paris Fashion Week, Wintour sat beside Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Comme des Garçons’ show.
The amount of power in the two seats sparked rumors that the designer of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo, will be featured in the next fashion exhibit at the Met. If this rumor proves true, the decision will be extremely significant as a Met exhibit has not been dedicated to a living designer in years. This rumor alone demonstrates how much Kawakubo’s colleagues revere and respect her.
I recently visited the current fashion exhibit at the Met this summer; titled Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. I was absolutely awestruck and dumbfounded by the designs in the exhibit. This was the first time I was mere inches away from exquisite runway designs, allowing me to see the painstaking details that go into the design. The exhibit opened with Karl Lagerfeld’s gold caped wedding dress for Chanel’s Fall 2014 haute couture show welcoming you into the exhibition with an incredibly intricate sparkling gold carpet. You are first amazed by the mere size of the cape and then you look closer and notice the pattern of the embroidery. You look even closer and realize the significance of each tiny bead out of the thousands of beads that contributes to the overall aura of the dress.
As I walked around the exhibit, one of the things that touched me was the fluidity of design throughout history. Two dresses from Dior in 1957 with sweetheart necklines, ballroom skirts, and embroidered scalloped petals over the skirt looked they could be on the runway in 2016. Again, the detail of the embroidery was awe-inspiring and dumbfounding when thinking about the hours of work the hand-sewn garment required. The main difference between the Chanel and Dior dresses is the use of technology. Lagerfeld created a pixelated, baroque pattern on the computer after sketching and then printed rhinestones onto the cape with machines. The beads, pearls, and gemstones were all hand-sewn onto the garment. Dior’s masterpieces were created entirely by hand. Traditionalists would say that some aspect, some magic, of the design is lost when not fully formed by hand, but Lagerfeld proves that this is not true. Time will always march forward, and fashion cannot lag behind for fear of being left in the dust.
The power this exhibit had over me demonstrates the influence the Met has. The respect that designers and power players in the fashion industry have for Kawakubo, along with Comme des Garçons as a whole, convinces me that she is fit to be featured in the next exhibit. What designer has a better understanding of the present and the role of technology in our world, than a designer who lives in it?
Image courtesy of Fashionista