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  • Noel Yeong-An Liao

  • From Retail Design to Curatorial Praxis: Rei Kawakubo + the Transformation of Visual Merchandising in America

    Fashion Studies (MA)

    From Retail Design to Curatorial Praxis: Rei Kawakubo + the Transformation of Visual Merchandising in America
    My thesis aims to examine Rei Kawakubo’s fashion practices in her spatial presentations — from the materialization of concepts to retail design along with an extension to the curation of gallery spaces. Dover Street Market, one of Kawakubo’s many retail venues, prospers and grows despite the current flow of e-commerce. The concept store attests to the designer’s ability to collaborate with other creative minds on building a distinctive experience, namely the intersection of a retail shop and a space for installations and art. Kawakubo's iconic use of the color white and her complex conceptualization of space shed light on the comparative discourse of color and modernity. More precisely, her choice of color is also associative with the practice of Zen Buddhism, a symbol of Japanese identity. Ethnographic findings from Kawakubo’s retail practices account in part for her curatorial involvement. In fact, Kawakubo designs for the “totality,” as the assessment of “space” has always been her first step in her design practices. By looking at Kawakubo's lifelong practice, I also explore other similar ventures in the hope of unraveling and opening up the discussion regarding how fashion is manifested through retail spatial visualization.
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