It's Time For The J.Crew Sample Sale(s) + Tracy Reese, MCM & More

We're at the point in the season where there may not be 30 sales happening every week, but the handful that are running are going to include some names of note. This week it's J.CREW which though it may be having some struggles, remains a powerful draw on the NYC Sample Sale Schedule.
As in past seasons, the capable folks at 260SampleSale have split the retailer's offerings among two locations. Men will have the roomy space at 151 Wooster Street to shop for themselves, while the women's collections along with CREWCUTS and sister chain MADEWELL will take over the home base at 260 Fifth Avenue. As we have pointed out before, this sale is not always a dream come true. Most of the offerings are actual samples —many that were never put into production. The seasonal breakdown is always a little bit murky, and, often, the prices are not lower than what you can find on the sale racks within the J.Crew flagships here in Manhattan given the chain's current hyper promotional state. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't a great piece here or there to be found, including accessories. its also an opportunity to catch items like sneakers from other vendors at great prices or prototype items that never made it to the selling floor, but make for great one-off bargains. The offerings are abundant enough that 260 is giving them seven whole days starting today which is a day more than their typical schedule allows. Shop through Sunday.

On Tuesday the 21st, resurgent status brand MCM will be taking over 150 Greene Street in SoHo for its seasonal sale promising discounts up to 80% off. for those looking for irreverent but slightly less exalted logo-wear, this one will be a must-shop.

Also on Tuesday, the Garment District will play host to two contemporary dress events from former FLOTUS fave TRACY REESE for two days, and MIGUELINA for three. Take the opportunity to pick something smart for summer weddings and garden parties.

Finally, on Sunday the 25th, Italian luxury linen label SFERRA will be returning to Soiffer Haskin for a four-day sale featuring all of it's sumptuous bed & bath offerings. Didn't they just have a sale a few weeks ago? Yes, they did, but Sferra, like some other labels likes to appear in different locations with new sales throughout the season, os if you missed it last time, here's another chance. 

Keep an eye on our sale roll sidebar for locations, hours and other update information including late-breaking sale. Next week, prepare for Steven Alan's seasonal extravaganza as well as Halston and more.


Maison Margiela, Porsche Design, Giuseppe Zanotti, Shinola, Havaianas & More On Flash Sale This Week

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Akris, ABS Allen Schwartz, Salvatore Ferragamo Watches, Aperlai, Naked & Famous, Farah, Camper, Maison Margiela, Baxter of California, Eddie Borgo, Tracy Reese, Free People, Moritz Glik, Seychelles, Ben Sherman, Saint Laurent, Psycho Bunny, True Religion, BluePrint Cleanse —join HERE
Giuseppe Zanotti, Murano Glass, Coach, Llum, Persol, Porsche Design, Yves Saint Laurent, Luli Fama, Argento Vivo, Brooks Brothers, BB Dakota, Lilla P, Saucony, Meshmerise Jewelry  —join HERE
Tumi, Franco Sarto, Tea & Cup, Desigual, Tommy Hilfiger, James Tattersall, KUWALLA, Novo Watches, Shinola, Dolce Vita, Belstaff, Havaianas, Free People, L'Atiste, Maac London, Bobbi Brown, Mario Badescu, Rogue, Eton, Robert Talbott, Diesel Watches  —join HERE


The Alexander McQueen Sale Arrives With Alice + Olivia & More Theory

We're a little late with the Sample Sale report this week, but not too late to remind you of the big ALEXANDER McQUEEN sale taking up residence at the Metropolitan Pavilion Soiffer Haskin for the weekend. Starting today, the label will be offering discounts on all of its main product categories, so go early and expect a line.

Also continuing and still worth a look with some likely extra discounts at this point in the week, are ALICE AND OLIVIA returning to 260 Fifth Avenue.

Today is the last day for the ELEVENTY sale on 40th Street across the street from Bryant Park. We aren't terribly familiar with this label, but the website shoes some appealing apparel for men and women, and it is all apparently made in Italy for what that's worth.

LA PERLA the luxury lingerie mega-label will be continuing through Sunday in SoHo if you haven't picked up something slinky yet.

Across town at the Chelsea Market, THEORY is making yet another appearance, this time for men only. Look for up to 60% savings on what is usually an abundant offering of solid, modern men's sportswear and clothing.

Make sure to keep an eye on our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for times, locations and any other breaking sales. Next week, its the big, multi-location J.Crew sale along with Tracy Reese, MCM and look to the end of the month for the always major Steven Alan sale.


Anna Sui, Céline, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Kenzo, Missguided & More on Flash Sales This Week

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Anna Sui, Schutz, Hickey Freeman, Reef Footwear, Versace, Aveda, Converse, Céline Accessories, ZAC Zac Posen, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Ramy Brook, Cynthia Steffe, Tara Pearls, Malone Souliers, BLK DNM, Tommy Hilfiger, Gordon Rush Italy, Diesel Underwear, Peanuts Artwork, Kavka Designs, Nespresso  —join HERE
Max Mara, Anne Klein, Jimmy Choo, Amorium, FENDI, Hale Bob, Taryn Rose, Nambé, Joan Vass, Mia Belle Couture, Elaine Turner, Michael Kors Watches  —join HERE
Dooney & Bourke, Donald J Pliner, Emerson Thorpe, Philosophy Collection, Original Penguin, Joe's Jeans, Antony Morato, KENZO Watches & Accessories, MAC Cosmetics, Betsey Johnson, Tom Ford Sunglasses, STEVEN by Steve Madden, DL 1961, Timberland, Cult of Individuality, Control Sector, Melissa Footwear, Young Fabulous & Broke, Missguided, Roberto Cavalli SUN, Angie, DAYA by Zendaya, Whyte Eyelash, English Laundry, Versace Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger, Goorin Bros. Hats —join HERE


The Nordstrom Men's Store is Slated To Open Well Before The NYC Flagship Store

There was one thing we were all certain of when the Nordstrom Flagship near Columbus Circle was announced: It was going to take a looooong time to build.
Initially announced as part of new wave of midtown skyscraper buildings, the upcoming store began to grow as it acquired space across the street at 3 Columbus Circle and then it was announced that adjacent buildings at 1776 Broadway and 5 Columbus Circle would be incorporated into the growing flagship including major restoration work on parts of the storefronts —which will probably make it take even longer. There's one part of the store, however, that shouldn't be hampered by complicated construction issues, and that's the Nordstrom Men's Store that is slated to open across the street. Nordstrom2018SignageWhile the opening date of the main store has been pushed to 2019, new signage in the windows of the upcoming men's unit announces a Spring 2018 opening, a full year, at least, ahead of it mothership (pictured at right). Obviously, the advantage here is that the store will open in a building that has already been built, and like any good retailer, the chain wants to get this freestanding component open as soon as possible. This will make Nordstrom only the second major store in Manhattan to house its men's department in a completely separate building on another block since Bergdorf Goodman opened its Men's Store nearly 27 years ago at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue. It helps that Nordstrom has one of the most developed Men's businesses of all the higher-end specialty department store chains. It has long been said among menswear vendors that if Nordstrom is one of your clients, it is likely to be your largest, and over the past decade, the company has made great efforts to evolve its menswear offerings from traditional middle-of-the-road fare to a broader assortment including more international designers and directional labels. We will likely see more evolution in the new store as executives have already promised an extra-special presentation for New York. As the city's erstwhile men's tailored clothing champion, Barneys New York, has jettisoned all but the most luxurious tier of its men's suit offerings, there is an opportunity for Nordstrom to pick up some of that slack as the city is still home to substantial legal and financial industries where lots of men still need nice suits for work. Now, we can be fairly certain that there is less than a year to wait to see how Nordstrom will address New York's menswear market as well as to see the first glimpse of the massive upcoming flagship project.


ETRO's First U.S. Sample Sale Leads The Week With Helmut Lang, Montblanc, Buccellati, Isaia & More

It's a big sample sale week for luxury fans, and the main event kicks it off today. Here are some highlights:

ETRO is has become more than just a cult label for people who love prints. It now ranks among the most coveted luxury brands which, like Loro Piana, evolved out of its original fabric business and remains one of the most skillful producers of intricately printed silks. Now they are everything from knitwear to footwear to jewelry and fragrance and accessories, most of which will be found at the Metropolitan Pavilion when its first Sample Sale in the United States opens its door to the public this afternoon. Lazar Media group has been aggressively promoting the sale, so it will be a must-shop for New York's Etro fans —of which there are many. Yesterday's VIP preview was full of the brand's signature prints ranging from the classic paisleys that are its signature to all manner of other patterns making for a nearly psychedelic array of apparel for both men and women. Needless to say, this is not a sale for minimalists looking for basics, but it is full of special pieces. Nearly everything they make is a showpiece of sorts, and the assortments covered multiple seasons and collections. The venue was split down the middle evenly divided for men and women. Shoppers found plenty of Sweaters and other knitwear along with apparel and lots of shoes (see a glimpse of the tables pictured above). Conspicuously missing, however was a broad assortment of the label's core categories, scarves and ties. Those items, perhaps are strong enough sellers that only a handful of each were left, but there is plenty of everything else for Etro fans at a blanket 80% the original prices for all merchandise. That still leaves some special pieces at lofty prices, but by and large shoppers should not be disappointed. Shop through Wednesday.

That's not all for Italian luxury this week. On Tuesday, in SoHo, Neapolitan hand-tailored clothing label ISAIA (which has its own enthusiastic cult of followers) opens its seasonal sale along with its slightly more directional and ever so slightly less expensive little brother EIDOS. Expect the usual selection of sumptuous suiting as well as the full lifestyle collections of sportswear, shoes and accessories from both labels. The sale takes place through Saturday at spacious 151 Wooster Street which suggests that there will be a lot of goods to choose from.

Up at 260 Fifth Avenue, MONTBLANC will be launching a four-day sale through Friday featuring watches, leather goods, jewelry and, of course, those famous writing instruments. Strategically scheduled right before Fathers' Day, this will be a popular stop for last minute gift shoppers.

A few blocks uptown and across town, Soiffer Haskin will be filling its display cases with art crystal, silver and jewelry from France's DAUM and Italy's BUCCELLATI. The three-day sale (through Thursday) completes the Euro-luxury theme of the week, but there is still plenty more on the schedule.

HELMUT LANG will take up residence at Chelsea Market once again starting on Wednesday the 7th featuring up to 60% off women's and men's collections from the Spring Season. Fans of the current incarnation of Helmut Lang should make sure not to miss this , since the label is transitioning into yet another concept this fall featuring capsule collections with guest designers. Shop through Sunday.

Finally, on Saturday, ESCADA will make its seasonal appearance at Soiffer Haskin through the following Wednesday rounding out a very full week.

See our SALE ROLL sidebar at left former sales, locations, hours and other details as well as any late-breaking events as we update regularly this week.
Next week, contemporary powerhouses Alice and Olivia and Theory (again) arrive along with more to come.



Céline, Burberry, Stuart Weitzman, TUMI, Diane von Furstenberg, ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo & More In This Week's Flash Sales

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Céline, Joe's Jeans, Shoshanna, Commando, Stuart Weitzman, Royce Leather, Official Program, Creed, TUMI, Cole Haan, MCM, Paper Crown, Sophie Anderson, Mosmann Australia, Royal Doulton,   —join HERE
Hudson Jeans, Tahari ASL, B Brian Atwood, Michael Stars, Kelsey, Ike Bear, Tissot Watches, Burberry, Shaker & Spoon —join HERE
Diane von Furstenberg, NADRI, Becca Cosmetics, Stonefeather, Zachary Prell, Sandro Moscoloni, TOMS, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Perry Ellis, PRPS, Lafayette 148, Lime Crime, VELVET by Graham & Spencer, Keds, Bony Levy, Volcom Swim, Tiare Hawaii, Robert Graham, ATM, Anthony Thomas Melillo, Edox Swiss Watches, Billabong, Dakine —join HERE


Fashion's Wonder Women On Sale With Diane von Furstenberg, Norma Kamali & Eileen Fisher Plus Diesel, J.Mendel & More

This week's sale schedule emphasizes quality over quantity with enough big names, including some of fashion's own Wonder Women, to keep busy shoppers satisfied as the season begins to hit its busiest stretch. Here are some highlights

On Tuesday the 30th, iconic designer DIANE von FURSTENBERG kicked off her seasonal clearance at 260 Fifth Avenue. Though she has occasionally skipped seasons, this time she is back in full force with items reportedly starting as low as $30. The sale is scheduled through the weekend, so expect a ton of goods with corresponding crush of faithful customers.

Running through Thursday, June 1st, luxury ready-to-wear and furrier  J.MENDEL has made the move from an appointment-driven showroom sale to a fully open-to-the-public "Warehouse Moving Sale". They are taking over the cavernous Soiffer Haskin, destination of choice for the most exclusive labels, so there must be plenty of merchandise to clear out of that warehouse. Be sure to bring ID and prepare for the venue's extra-strict security policies —and leave the kids at home.

Another contemporary team up we have come to expect is the JOIE, EQUIPMENT & CURRENT/ELLIOTT sale currently going on in SoHo. These sibling brands have moved closer to their natural environment through Saturday featuring savings on more casual, everyday wear.

Today, Wednesday the 31st, brings the seasonal one-day event at the home of another iconic fashion lady, NORMA KAMALI. Her boutique in Midtown will offer deep discounts on all of her collections from high end ready-to-wear to accessories to her timeless swimwear.

Also starting today, the ever popular DIESEL will kick off its sale on Greene Street featuring stacks of denim, racks of trendy casual wear and the runway-ready Black Gold collection. Shop through Sunday.

Finally, this weekend features one more notable female designer's sale. EILEEN FISHER will open up her original boutique in the East Village featuring Summer collections and unique samples at 50% off the original prices.

Check our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for hours, locations and any other late-breaking events we can post. Next week, save up for Montblanc, Helmut Lang, Isaia, Mara Hoffman and more


Heading Into The Holiday Weekend With Paul Smith, Theory & More

It's high Sample Sale season, but also the week before a Holiday Weekend, so the schedule is a bit lighter than it will be going forward for the next few weeks. Still there are a few highlights as we approach Memorial Day.

The mother of all makeup artist cosmetic lines, BOBBI BROWN is holding a solid week-long sale at 260 Fifth Avenue. Expect crowds, but also enough product to cover an full seven days of business.

Popular Spanish sportswear chain DES is once again taking up residence at DESIGUAL for three days starting today through Thursday the 23rd. This time they are promising mostly women's and children's items with a small selection for men.

This week's heavy hitter is PAUL SMITH who will be on Greene and Houston Streets in SoHo just a few steps from his own flagship store. The Shophound previewed the sale this morning where we found an abundance of menswear and a much smaller offering of women' apparel. Accessories included only a few bags and home furnishings, but an extensive selection of shoes (pictured above), scarves, underwear and other furnishings. Prices are even lower in many cases than the promised 75% off with a fairly even mix of the main collection and the more affordable PS line. See price lists after the jump. Shop through Sunday.

The other big draw will be tomorrow's THEORY sale at Chelsea Market. This will, as usual, be the first of a series, and it will feature only women's apparel and accessories. Shop through Sunday and stay tuned for sequels.

See our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details and any other late breaking events. Next week, things will rev up again with DVF, Diesel, Norma Kamali and more.

Continue reading "SAMPLE CIRCUIT:

Heading Into The Holiday Weekend With Paul Smith, Theory & More" »


Tom Ford, Herve Leger, Gant, Longchamp, Burberry & More On Flash Sale This Week

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Sigerson Morrison, Antik Batik, Marabelle, T Tahari, New Balance, Eleven Paris, Muuba, Sam Edelman, Alexander McQueen, Dana Rebecca Fine Jewelry, Escada, Nicholas, Tom Ford, Corneliani, BANKS, Hanro, PRPS, Eileen Fisher, BCBG, Longchamp, 7 For All Mankind, Gucci, Burberry  —join HERE
Stuart Weitzman, M Missoni, Daniel Hector, Joyfolie, Herve Leger, TORN by Ronny Kobo, Joe's Jeans, Robert Graham, Bedhead Pajamas, VIMMIA  —join HERE
Hudson, Aquatalia, Ro & De, ZAC Zac Posen, Zanzara, Psycho Bunny, Cole Haan, RACHEL Rachel Roy, Gant, BRIC's, Dolce Guava, One Teaspoon, Meghan LA, LOVE Moschino, Swarovski Jewelry, Shahida Parides, Rogue, True Religion, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Hickey Freeman —join HERE


A Jam-Packed Sale Week Including Billy Reid, Jimmy Choo, Hickey Freeman & Some Jenner Girls

There are a whopping 24 sales listed on our SALE ROLL sidebar at left, and those are just the ones we have curated. We don't know yet if this is the busiest week of the Sample Sale season, but it's definitely a contender. Here are some highlights of the sampling:

There are seven sales starting today the 16th alone, but the top draw is likely to be JIMMY CHOO, the luxury shoe brand that draws a bigger crowd every season. The caveat here is that it is likely to be invitation only for today, and possibly tomorrow, but that won't mean much to many of the shoe fans who will make this a priority sale for the week. By Thursday, it will likely be open to the public, but the trick is in getting there just when the sale runners decode to open the floodgates.

Anyone looking for a deal on this season's sunglasses will be heading to SoHo for MODO's annual eyewear blowout featuring designer shade and frames at a deep discount.

For more reliable offerings, JAMES PERSE, a perennial sale favorite, will be holding a sample sale on Broadway in SoHo featuring 75% savings on casual wear featuring those famous t-shirts. Shop through Saturday.

A bit further uptown in NoMad, popular Dutch sportswear chain SCOTCH & SODA will be taking over 260 Fifth Avenue through Saturday with extended hours to accommodate evening shoppers.

Wednesday the 17th is equally packed with sales. Fans of the eternal ballet flat will be heading to the Upper East Side for FRENCH SOLE's four-day sale while Instagram fans will be heading to SoHo for what appears to be the first KENDALL + KYLIE sample sale from those ubiquitous Jenner Sisters. Those in search of deals on luxury children's apparel will be returning to the Metropolitan Pavilion for the BP sale, and possibly making it a double header with Jimmy Choo. R13 DENIM will be kicking off a five day stint on Greene Street, while a block west will host SK underwear through the weekend.

On Thursday the 18th, THE NEWS Showroom in SoHo will once again open to the public for three days featuring a host of hot labels including OFFICINE GENERALE's sportswear and COMMON PROJECTS perfect sneakers to name a few.

A jaunt north will take you to BILLY REID's four day sale on the Bowery just around the corner form his flagship boutique. Look for a whopping 80% off and maybe a cocktail if you time it right.

Saturday the 20th brings a weekend-long sale from sexy swim and sportswear label CR promising 90% Off, and starting on Sunday, gentleman in need of tailored clothing will be heading to Soiffer Haskin for the five-day, seasonal HICKEY FREEMAN sale featuring racks and racks of elegant suits, furnishings and accessories.

That's just a selection of the sales New Yorkers will find this week. You'll find more sales on our SALE ROLL sidebar along with locations, times and other details. Next week save up for Paul Smith, Bobbi Brown, Desigual and much more.


Dior, Christian Louboutin, Mulberry, Max Mara, Adidas Y-3 & More On Flash Sale This Week

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Dior Accessories, Botkier, Siwy, Zadig & Voltaire, Bioderma, Cosabella, JACHS, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Tibi, Me & Ro, TORN/Ronny Kobo, Marchesa Rose, Schutz, Bobbi Brown, Martin Greenfoeld, Nudie/G-Star Raw, Bruno Magli —join HERE
Lela Rose, Anne Cole, TUMI, Max Mara, Mulberry, Reiss, Chloé, Ray-Ban, BB Dakota, Trina Turk, Joie, Max Studio, Andrea Candela, Burberry, Sharper Image, RapidLash, Tag Heuer/Breitling, Marc Fisher —join HERE
Ramy Brook, Jeffrey Campbell, JOE's Jeans, theBalm, MCM, Aldo, Quiksilver, Converse, Loveappella, Marina Dresses, TOD's, Joan Vass, Projek Raw, Kobi Halperin, TOV, Mirenesse Australia, James Jeans, L'Academie, Lindbergh, Joseph Abboud, Adidas Y-3   —join HERE


Accessory Sales Take The Week With Rebecca Minkoff, Judith Leiber, Loeffler Randall & More

As the Sale Schedule kicks into high gear, this week's selection of clearances has shifted focus to accessories and home furnishings, but don't worry, there is still fashion to be had. Here are some highlights:

The week's big star is perennial fave REBECCA MINKOFF whose sale kicked off on Monday the 8th, but will run for a full seven days through Sunday at 260 Fifth Avenue. Typically, Minkoff offers a bounty of goods ranging from her core handbag line to shoes, apparel, accessories and men's accessories. Prepare for crowds through the week.

Down at 260SampleSale's Greene Street location, popular Euro-Chain SANDRO opened on Tuesday the 9th for a run through Sunday. Look for sleek sportswear for Euro-sized men and women alongside shoes and accessories.

On Wednesday, the 10th, New York's current hat maestro ALBERTUS SWANEPOEL will be opening his Chelsea showroom for savings on women's and men's headwear for two days, enough time to get the best beach hat.

Also on Wednesday, Soiffer Haskin kicks off a 5-day luxury triple header headlined by French silver brand CHRISTOFLE featuring savings on flatware, hollowware, gifts, jewelry and more. They will be sharing space with minaudière mistress JUDITH LEIBER and precious gems from PAOLO COSTAGLI all running through Sunday.

That's not all the mid-week offers. Fans of luxury linens will be heading down to Chelsea Market for the return of the SFERRA sale featuring luxurious Italian linens ranging from simple sets to extravagant damask duvet sets. Generally, bath towels, robes, down pillows and comforters, table linens and other home accessories are to be expected as well. Shop through Sunday.

On Thursday the 11th, Danish housewife brand BODUM will be holding a single-day sale at its headquarters in the Starrett-Lehigh Building in West Chelsea. It's only open from 10:30 to 4, so act fast.

Also on the 11th, Contemporary footwear fave LOEFFLER RANDALL will star its 3-day sale in SOHO just above Canal Street. Not far away on Broome Street, shoppers will find Japanese/French label PAS de CALAIS on sale at its boutique with the men's line SAGE de CRET on sale in the basement. A bit further uptown in NoHo, ZERO MARIA CORNEJO's sophisticated collection will be on sale through Sunday including apparel, shoes and accessories on the Bowery.

It's a full lineup this week, but next week is shaping up to be even fuller with Jimmy Choo, Frette, James Perse, Scotch & Soda, The News Showroom and even Kendall & Kylie —yes, that's as in Jenner. Find all the details for this week's sales and upcoming events in our SALE ROLL sidebar at left which we will do our best to update with breaking events and sales during this busy sample sale season.


Christian Louboutin, Balenciaga, Fendi, St. John & More On Flash Sale This Week

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Frye, Sandro, Wildfox, Dior Sunglasses, Lubiam, Russell Park, Nixon Watches, King Baby, Seychelles, Christian Louboutin, Balenciaga, The Kooples, Anya Hindmarch, Toscano Linen, James Tattersall, Tani Underwear —join HERE
Alice + Olivia, HIHO, Christian Louboutin, Llum Girls, Minnetonka, D'OR 24k & L'Reve, FENDI, Lagos, Platypus Australia, Peter Millar, St.John, CREED, Luli Fama —join HERE
Stuart Weitzman, Ella Moss, Black Orchid, Stonefeather, George Brown, Frye, One Teaspoon, Kate Spade New York, Jack Spade, Suslo Couture, Diesel, Brandblack, J Brand, Vince, Ooberswank, ABS by Allen Schwartz, Liebeskind Berlin, Borgo 28, Golden Age, English Laundry, RUSH by Gordon Rush —join HERE


You've Seen The Met Ball Pictures, Now Challenge Yourself With Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

A panoramic view of Rei Kawakubo/Comme Des Garçons: Art of the In-Between taken at the press preview on May 1, 2017

There's nothing to flood the press with extravagant images like the Met Ball week. It is a guarantee of at least two or three days of debate over whether Madonna looked good or ridiculous in her Moschino, or whether Katy Perry's elaborate Maison Margiela get-up was too much even for the most extravagant fashion party. Then there's the ongoing assessment of the fashion credibility of various Kardashians. After all the dust settles from that, there is a design exhibition to be seen, and in this case, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, which opens today, is one of the most challenging that the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has staged in years —on nearly every level.

As a designer, Rei Kawakubo has been at the forefront of promoting Japanese fashion since she launched her label Comme des Garçons in the early 1980s alongside a wave of designers that also included Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto among others. More than any other label, Comme des Garçons has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of fashion in every way from materials and colors to actually distorting the way the shape of the human body is represented.  

ReiCDG ClothesNotClothesGalleryView
Gallery View, Clothes/Not Clothes © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

At the same time, as a brand, Comme des Garçons has steadily grown as a commercial enterprise, offering more accessible interpretations of the designer's aesthetic under a plethora of related diffusion labels, but only the most adventurous designs are represented in the exhibition. While some selections still bear little resemblance to the kinds of conventional clothes that most people wear, it's not hard to see the famous black wool sweaters consisting mostly of holes from 1982 (seen in the center of the gallery view at right) and draw a parallel to the current craze for "destroyed" denim jeans full of carefully curated ladders, tears and distressing. Kawakubo's aesthetic has tricked down and influenced fashion in subtle ways that are often totally unrecognizable to mainstream customers, and the exhibition may serve to clarify the importance of her avant-garde designs which, out of context, have often drawn derision and confusion from the mainstream. For this reason, the exhibition is arranged thematically with sections titled  Absence / Presence, Design / Not Design, Fashion / Anti-Fashion, Model / Multiple, High / Low, Then / Now, Self / Other, Object / Subject and Clothes / Not Clothes. Some have up to eight subsections with equally contradictory titles, but if you think they are inscrutable, then that is the desired effect. In keeping with Kawakubo's dedication to challenging the norms fashion, the exhibition design itself upends many museum conventions that visitors may, and should find unnerving. There are no statements on the walls introducing the various sections, and no information cards beside the objects describing their provenance and offering curatorial notes. Instead, visitors are expected to follow an expanded booklet that provides a map and legend to the show and its complex, mazelike structure. Visitors will be expected to refer to their papers, matching items to their numbered descriptions, constantly trading focus from the works on display to their booklets as they move through a series of often tightly enclosed spaces where objects are frequently placed for viewing in secluded nooks and structures that require peering around corners and into crevices. It is quite the opposite to the airy, open arrangements we have seen in some recent Costume Institute shows that offered maximum viewability. This is not a show to breeze through casually, but it may be more rewarding to keep the brochure in your bag and focus on the clothes as one takes in the show. Even better, visitors on a speedy mood might spring for the $50 exhibition catalogue which delves deeper into the Comme des Garçons aesthetic philosophy alongside spectacular photography both new and archival. (Hey, it comes with a free poster, too!) While this is one show that would have greatly benefitted from a recorded tour, there does not appear to be one available.

The other notable aspect of the exhibition is that it is the first at the Costume Institute since the Yves Saint Laurent show 1983 to focus on a single designer who continues to live and work with a going business. Why did it take 35 years for the Met to honor another living designer? The reasons stem from past concerns that the museum was being used as a promotional tool for big fashion businesses and their corporate partners. While that concern remains, it created a situation where no other curatorial department was forced to wait for an artist to actually die before they could stage a monographic exhibition. It appears that the museum and its board are realizing that the policy was not only morbid, but pointless, as many important (and dead) designers have names that continue on in business. Dior, Versace, McQueen and Chanel, to name a few have been eligible for honor with exhibitions of their work since the policy was imposed even as their companies continued to operate, but, until now, worthy designers like Rei Kawakubo among many others, were not eligible as they continued living. Hopefully, the current exhibition signals an end to the policy rather than an exception, opening up the possibility of honoring other important living designers in the future. 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between opens today and runs through September 4 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.