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

Hussein Chalayan – Fashion Narratives

Decorative Arts Museum Paris

Hussein Chalayan Heliopolis 2006 Collection

Heliopolis Collection 2006

The Decorative Arts Museum in Paris is currently showing through November 13 the works of British-Turkish Cypriot Fashion Designer Hussein Chalayan in an exhibition titled ‘Récits de Mode’.

Hussein Chalayan After Words Collection 2000

After Words 2000 Collection

A similar exhibition some may have seen and recall at the London Design Museum in 2009.

The Decorative Arts Museum provides a lot of text and visuals on the exhibition on their website. The site is in French, there is an English version of it, though it does not provide as many details on the show.

Chalayan is another graduate from Central Saint Martins College (1993) and like Alexander McQueen has always stressed his work is as much about the design and the architectural as the fashion. His website includes as many art projects and videos as it does fashion pieces.

The exhibition is not simply fashion behind glass but is interactive and explorative allowing you to see the processes involved at all stages of the work via various media.

The exhibition commences from a decomposing dress of his opening 1993 graduate show and then follows along his varied and creative fashion career including the synthetic paper airmail-dresses and fibre-glass ‘airplane’ dresses.

A book detailing the exhibition and overseen by its curator Pamela Golbin is available on the website to purchase.

The exhibition provides you with lots of supporting narrative but we can also of course put aside the contexts and let the visual impact of his works speak to us directly.

Chanel Fall 2011 Paris Couture Show

Chanel Couture Fall 2011

Chanel Couture Fall 2011 Karmen Pedaru

Modelled by Karmen Pedaru

Mixed receptions to the Paris Couture shows seemed to be the thing this week. As with Dior the fashion press is divided on Chanel’s Fall 2011 show. Unlike Dior no change at the top still the singular Karl Lagerfeld at the helm. And still those who think he carries the Coco flame. But others who think he has gone off track.

This show was a life of Coco if a Tarantino time-shifted one.

One of the criticisms of the show was that he made these ‘already taller-than-the-average-woman’ models look small – and which I share. This must have been purposeful I guess – Lagerfeld is too much the artist to have so oddly tailored – but then for what purpose?

Most of the outfits were suits and very stylish but they also looked very warm – and what sort of a primary adjective is that for a Chanel show?!

The Chanel work ethic was intact – it was as ever an extensive collection – the House of Chanel clearly toiled long and hard. I loved the materials and the design prints. But not enough to overcome my reservations about the styling and structure of the outfits at least in the first half of the show.

Chanel Couture Fall 2011 Liu Wen

Modelled by Liu Wen

As the show progressed these reservations fell away – the dresses and the longer skirted suits worked unreservedly.

The set was a wow – Place Vendome as rendered by Fritz Lang – but this did not extend enough to the clothes – usually for Chanel shows words fail me – there are not superlatives enough etc – here I was not lost for words.

Merely occasionally very impressed.

Paris in July – Couture Week – Christian Dior beyond Galliano

Dior Couture Fall 2011

Dior Couture Fall 2011 Collection Zuzanna Bijoch

Modelled by Zuzanna Bijoch

It’s Paris Couture week – hooray! As a blogger posting about these shows it is a ‘promenade dans le parc’ – but a challenge too – a challenge to avoid posting up a  handful of fabulous photographs with easy lazy lacklustre supporting prose. Afterall the photographs do speak for themselves – and it is such a subjective experience – what I see and feel is not necessarily what you are seeing and feeling and so I may as well shut up and let the pictures speak for themselves?! But then where’s the fun in that!

In my last perfumed post I alluded to the disgraced and fallen John Galliano.

In Paris on American Independence Day was the Christian Dior Couture Fall 2011 collection – the first after the Galliano Storm. Bill Gaytten formerly under Galliano’s wing now left to fly his own wordless arc.

Has he flown too far the spirit of Dior? Dior purists – Diorists? Diorinna’s?! – are tending to think so. Its tradition has been transgressed too much – a lot can be done within those narrow confines but Gaytten has abandoned those confines almost entirely.

Dior Couture 2011 Collection Alana Zimmer

Modelled by Alana Zimmer

I would agree but am still more ambivalent than despondent as I enjoyed the collection very much.

In the words of fashion critic Tim Banks as if ‘Dior woman had suddenly been possessed by a Disco dolly’ – entertaining perhaps for us Front Row interlopers but an in-body experience a Dior woman would most likely want exorcising of.

For the rest of us it will be interesting to see if Gaytten is allowed to continue upon his path or if the House of Christian Dior reins him back in.