At the remarks that followed the preview, Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of The Costume Institute, explained that, at Kawakubo’s request, there is no text on the walls to describe either the exhibition or individual pieces (a booklet is available upon request), while there also is no set route to view the show.
Campbell called the overall approach “unlike anything we’ve ever done before.” Bolton and Campbell were joined at the preview by Caroline Kennedy, former United States ambassador to Japan and honorary chair of Monday night’s Met Gala, the year’s primary fundraiser for The Costume Institute.
Anna Wintour, chief planner of the Met Gala since 1999, sat on the front row for the remarks; the Vogue editor-in-chief, whose name was attached to the Costume Institute in 2014, is said to have been influential in the choice of a retrospective of the 74-year-old designer’s work.
Kawakubo is only the second living designer to be honored with a solo retrospective at The Costume Institute—the first was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983.
(It also should be noted that Kawakubo doesn’t care for the word “retrospective,” as it implies the past, while she is only interested in moving forward, Bolton said.) The famously-elusive Kawakubo skipped the preview, but Kennedy said she was happy to stand in for her on Monday morning, as the pair became friends during her three years of diplomatic service in Tokyo.