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Met Gala: Carla Sozzani’s Intimate Tribute to Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo, Illustration by Farhen Feingold

Rei Kawakubo, Illustration by Farhen Feingold

Ahead of tonight’s Met Gala and the May Costume Institute exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art honoring Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo, we feature gallerist and founder of 10 Corso Como, Carla Sozzani’s tribute to her friend whose modus operandi has impacted an industry.  

“It was 1981, and I still cherish how amazing it was to have seen Rei’s first show in Paris. There I was, and what I saw was all that I had been driven to look for: her vision of the woman I wanted to be. Free – in movement, in life, and in my look. I had never worn makeup, and I always felt uncomfortable in high heels. I wore flats, mostly men’s shoes; I loved black, loved sculpture, loved softness. But this was much more than that.

Rei Kawakubo changed my vision of what fashion can be. Not only to be more aware of what it was to be seen, but much deeper. She made me self-aware in my person. Without knowing in words, I knew that what I was seeing were clear and focused ideas about fashion. I had never experienced it in this way.

“Blue Witch,” Spring 2016. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art © Paolo Roversi

Rei Kawakubo “Blue Witch,” Spring 2016. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art © Paolo Roversi

Before I opened the Galleria Carla Sozzani in 1990 at 10 Corso Como, I worked for almost 20 years as an editor of several fashion magazines. That, and my own natural curiosity, took me around the world. And always, I would make it a point to visit Comme des Garçons in Tokyo. Rei and I became friends.

For 10 years, Rei and I – thanks to her vision – pioneered a joint project in Tokyo and we shared our perceptions of editing. To explore together with her was a privilege.

I once read where she says, ‘Creation is our business.’ Her appreciation of the discipline that fashion imposes, that the body imposes on the expressions we make in fashion, and at the same time the need to be free, to create, to explore the beauty of no limits,’ is something that I have always admired in her and seen as a parallel to my own impulses. It is the source of our friendship. A friendship that I treasure.”–Carla Sozzani

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, from May 4 to September 4 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, New York.

For the full feature “Rei,” with an introduction by fashion journalist Jessica Michault and tributes by Carla Sozzani, LVMH Prize nominee Nabil El-Nayal, and Gene Krell, international fashion director at Vogue Japan, read the April issue of Vogue Arabia.

NEXT: Carla Sozzani: The History of an Eye by Emanuele Coccia 

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