In very few other locations does one discover their abject weaknesses on an hour-to-hour basis. Los Angeles' billboards, people, even the mannequins, all strive to show you what you lack – and they, unlike traditional advertisements, do away with any pretense of potential. It is not “Here is what you can become if you buy this.” It is, “This is where you lack, and you can, maybe , approximate it by paying $250 for a pair of jeans that no one else will care about.”

Adding to the myriad of reasons why so many of us are in therapy is LACMA's Breaking The Mode , the most whimsical neurosis-inducer to descend on this town and LACMA's most fun exhibit in years. After showcasing classic Christian Dior, the exhibition transcends its name, providing outfits that not only defy expectation, but logic, gravity, physics (and, yes, bank accounts.)

Issey Miyake's Minaret Dress turns the wearer into a Japanese lantern; Martin Margiela creates outfits that can be worn upside-down and others made of vintage bathing suits. My favorite is a spoof on the Chanel suit with all the buttons dilated to comical proportions; Jean-Charles de Castelbajac's Pasta Ensemble and Postcard Skirt are just what you'd expect, but never what you would have thought of and Rei Kawakubo places hitherto defined “lovely lady-lumps” where she wants (back of shoulders, under arms) concocting clothing as sculpture.

Breaking The Mode , while making one feel fashionably impotent, is the best exhibition of the season and, perhaps, the year. The ambition of any museum show, and one few actually accomplish, is to induce a paradigm shift. Mode has reached this zenith.

Leaving the Hammer Building, you will never again clothing shop or people watch in the same way. Indeed, even while in the exhibit, you may begin looking past the articles on display to the outfits other patrons are wearing. You will be so overwhelmed with couture that, as an antidote, you'll have to go to Six Flags afterwards to see the antithesis of fashion.  

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., in Los Angeles. Hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs noon-8 p.m., Fri noon-9 p.m., Sat-Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Admission: $9; $5 for students with ID; Free after 5 p.m. and the second Tuesday of each month. For more information call (323) 857-6000 or visit