The 18th Century Back in Fashion – Grand Trianon Exhibition

Thierry Mugler RTW 1992-3

Thierry Mugler RTW 1992-3

Pierre Balmain 1954

Pierre Balmain 1954

The 18th Century Back in Fashion is an exhibition at the Palace of Versailles’ Grand Trianon showing now through to October 9.

This exhibition in their words ‘presents in a poetic confrontation costumes from the 18th Century and masterpieces of haute couture and fashion design from the 20th and 21st centuries’.

An online brochure is available detailing the exhibition in full – the pieces included and the rationale behind them.

The emphasis here is on the French 18th century and its influence on haute couture since that time to the present day but an influence out of France, to the rest of Europe and the World.

Vivienne Westwood 1996 Les Femmes Collection

Vivienne Westwood 1996 Les Femmes Collection

Christian Dior 2011

Christian Dior 2011

Britain is represented perhaps unsurprisingly by Alexander McQueen and by Vivienne Westwood – you can relive their 1990’s haute couture creations again if this time not on the catwalk but the magnificent surroundings of the Grand Trianon.

Also featured are other haute-couture modern luminaries such as Karl Lagerfield, Balenciaga, Azzedine Alaia, Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior – and more.

In addition to the gallery of fashion on show to be experienced is the museum space itself – The Grand Trianon and its Gardens, and The Cotelle Gallery.

Fashion accessories are not neglected either – removable lace sleeves, fans, gloves, clutch bags and shoes. And of course jewellery. All on view like the costumes themselves in these grand palatial rooms.

The exhibition is open every day other than Monday from noon to 6.30pm – very civilised hours! And if you are a European Union resident and under the age of 26 you go free.

As said there is a brochure which includes photographs of various pieces but this is no substitute for seeing them life-sized, though I don’t suppose we will get to touch them!

It is a fascinating fashion survey – of how fashion has changed over the last three centuries yet in other ways not changed at all.

18th Century - French court dress

18th Century – French court dress

Azzedine Alaia 1992 Spring Summer Ready to Wear

Azzedine Alaia 1992 Spring Summer Ready to Wear

Azzedine Alaia – the cream of the Couture crop

Azzedine Alaia

Azzedine Alaia Paris Couture Fall 2011 modelled by Toni Garm

Modelled by Toni Garm

Paris Couture week is over. The big houses exhibited – Dior, Chanel, Valentino, Givenchy & Jean Paul Gaultier. Other stalwarts too such as Saab and Simoens among this select coterie of couturiers and it was Tunisian High Fashion King Azzedine Alaia with his first show since 2003 on Thursday July 7 that most impressed me.

Azzedine Alaia Couture Fall 2011 Maria Kashleva

Modelled by Maria Kashleva

Unlike Chanel this was a compact collection – a mere twenty-five pieces. Like that house black also predominated with a notable fuschia colour presence too along with green.

And everything worked as a piece and as a whole – the colours, the materials, the tailoring, the prints – not that I would extend this metaphor to a symphonic outcome – rather a chamber piece. No bombast here.

Perhaps too there is a lesson in only showing at such a lax time frequency – no burn out, time to let ideas percolate and take deep form, if time too to let fashion pass you by, so a brave choice in this endless evolving catwalk. But again if your work aspires to the timeless then time should not pass it by…

I could not find a website for his work either outside directory listings in Style, Fashion Model Directory and the like – the man is just perverse!

Nevertheless I hope not to be waiting until 2019 to witness the Alaia high fashion experience again!

He is an acolyte of Madame Gres – this show was a lasting testament to her.