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This year should be particularly jaw-dropping, since the exhibit the gala celebrates is a one-woman show dedicated to Rei Kawakubo, the founder of the Japanese brand Comme des Garçons, and only the second living designer ever to be granted a retrospective at the museum. (The first was Yves Saint Laurent, in 1983.) Ms. Kawakubo’s work challenges all conventional notions of beauty, femininity and the way garments are constructed; she dares to go where most designers — and, frankly, people — do not. Once, I talked to her backstage after a…

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