May 3, 2017
Rihanna’s Met Gala dress, from Comme Des Garçons’s Fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear collection has sparked some pretty interesting Internet discourse over the past day or so since the Met Gala took place in New York. Look what The Mirror had to say about the memes and general Internet mockery of the dress.
If you take a moment to look around various social media platforms, you’ll notice how the conversation regarding the Met Gala dress is pretty much split evenly. First, there’s the group of people who think the dress is a work of art. This group consists of die-hard RiRi fans, who will love and admire everything the pop star does, touches, says, or wears. In that group there are also people who appreciate concept fashion and avant-garde art, and are vocal about the dress’s significance within the context of the Met Gala.
Then there is the other group. This second group involves the people who either don’t appreciate or don’t understand the ideas behind Rei Kawakubo’s fashion house. Some of the people in this group are pretty obvious in their disdain for the dress, even going so far as to say that the dress looks like it was fashioned together from garbage.
If you don’t appreciate concept fashion, or it’s just not your thing, that’s totally fine. However, we at WomenonTop are here to educate, inspire, and talk incessantly about celebrated fashion, so this is our take on the dress.
This particular dress is from the Fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear collection, and for that entire collection, Rei Kawabuko mentioned she was envisioning what “18th century punk” would look like. She then used that vision as her inspiration for the collection. During the Napoleonic era (which was during the 18th century) the fashion for women consisted of, largely, empire silhouettes. This dress is a nod to that – the upper part of the dress is slightly cinched below the bust and falls in somewhat in an A-line drape. The large-hipped, generously endowed, hourglass shape was very much the ideal body type for females during that point in history, and Kawabuko played on that concept by using the dress to accentuate the form of the body to look like an exaggerated hourglass, which was apparent even under the A-line drape of the skirt.
The colors, along with the haphazard-looking, collage-style format of the different pieces of material, is very reminiscent of the original punk style. The material used for the dress is of the Jacquard style of textiles. The Jacquard machine was a device created to work with power looms. Invented in 1801, it was used to make damask and matelassé. Both those fabrics are strong and durable materials with complex designs, used for household items such as tablecloths. This fabric choice ties to the concept of punk, as punk fashion originated from the need to gather whatever items punks already had in their possession in order to create clothing which was both durable and cheap. Much like the safety pins heavily used in punk fashion, Jacquard textiles would have been an ideal choice for punks to use for their clothes (had they lived in late 18th to early 19th centuries), because they would have already had the strong, durable material in easy and abundant access.
This collaboration of cultural and historic ties make this dress anything but garbage. It’s well thought out, incredibly detailed, and, much like everything in Kawakubo’s portfolio, is tied together with the rest of its collection. She wanted to make something which 18th century punks would wear, if they had existed and bought haute couture. She made exactly that.