7. Merce Cunningham

Label: Comme des Garcons

Year: 1997

Rei Kawakubo first started designing under the name Comme des Garçons in 1969, and since then she has been making her name known as one of the foremost avant-garde fashion designers in the world. Merce Cunningham was making himself known under similar terms, but within the dance context. Kawakubo had always "shared similar creative philosophies with Merce Cunningham, including interests in engaging multiple artistic disciplines and aggressively pushing the boundaries of the unknown." After Cunningham's initial offer to give her complete freedom in designing the costumes and the set, Kawakubo declined. As myth has it, while working on her notorious spring collection of 1997, titled "Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body," she changed her mind. The collection was an aggressive response to her feelings of boredom with fashion. She padded the dresses in a way to reshape the body under new circumstances—her own circumstances. Similarly to the "Body Meets Dress" collection, the costumes Kawakubo designed for her collaborative work with Cunningham (tilted Scenario) featured the same "irregular bulges on the dancers' hips, shoulders, chests, and backs." Wearing these costumes altered the dancers' proportions, their balance, sense of space, and even their fundamental extent of movement. This experimental collaboration between Cunningham and Kawakubo transcends boundaries of art, fashion, costumes design, set design, dance and performance; their partnership should stand to remind us that there really isn't that much of a difference between those categories at all.