Paris Adventures: Christian Dior, Couturier Du Réve part 1

I was so lucky to be able to see the exhibit Christian Dior, Couturier Du Réve  at the Les Arts Décoratifs Paris.   Beware this blog post is photo intense, be patient as it takes less time than the flight to Pairs.    The exhibit runs through January 7, 2018.  This is a must see wonderland of couture.    But to avoid the long line, book your ticket online in advance.  The link is here:  http://billetterie.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/gammadn/adnnet/  it is only in French, but it is well worth the time savings.  This is a very popular exhibit so the crowds are capacity controlled.  Also most of the exhibit is dark, so unless you have a camera that does well in low light, your ability to take photos will be limited.    However, if you can’t make the exhibit, the exhibit catalog is available as a “coffee table” book.  It weighs over 7 pounds!  The book is available in multiple languages, the English version is sold on Amazon.  Even if you attend the exhibit the anniversary book adds so much additional history and photos it is well worth the purchase.  Just buy it here as it is way to heavy to transport in luggage!

Let me just say that I am not one to be on the designer bandwagon.  I don’t buy products (handbags, eyeglasses, perfume) just because they have a designer’s name emblazoned on the product.  But I was overwhelmed in this exhibit by the creativity, the beauty and the skill of these creations and of the magic of the exhibit itself.

The theme is the anniversary of 70 years of fashion by the House of Dior.  The exhibit spaces is over 3200 square feet and includes over 400 haute couture garments by Dior and his successors.  It is one of the only exhibits I have attended where there were audible gasps of wonder as attendees walked from room to magic room.  There are original sketches, art borrowed from museums around the world, photographs by all of the leading fashion photographers,  lights, music, video clips all of it blending to the experience that is this Dior exhibit.   The best part of the entire exhibit – if I were forced to choose – were the demonstration by Dior ateliers.  My first visit, the demonstration was on the inner construction of the Bar suit.  The iconic cream peplum jacket  that epitomizes the “New Look”.  The suit is the first thing you see when you go to the 2nd half of the exhibit.  A later exhibit features all of the Dior designers, but to give you a quick timeline:  Christian Dior (1947-1957)- Yves Saint Laurent (1957-1960), Marc Bohan (1960-1989), Gianfranco Ferré (1989-1997), John Galliano (1997-2011), Raf Simons (2012-2015) and Maria Grazia Chiuri (2016- ).

 

The exhibit starts with a history of the House of Dior, and then the history of Christian Dior the man behind the couture house.   And then moves to a large room where huge famous photos disappear and the dresses are displayed.   Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday in the 1951 haute couture evening gown designed for her; Richard Avedon’s  Dovima with Elephants – transitioning to the Fall-Winter 1955 Soirée de Paris dress and  ‘Zemire’ modeled by Dior house model Renee. Paris, 1954. Photograph by Regina Relang with Eifiel tower in the background. (the dress is red)

Next up – fashion inspired by art (here are just a few in this section of the exhibit)  Here is a link to a different exhibit but the the same idea.

2005 Haute Couture gown inspired by Madame Charles Max in Giovanni Boldini’s 1896 portrait
Raf Simmons Fall-Winter 2012 Haute Couture gowns inpired by Sterling Ruby ‘- Shadow Print

 

Galliano inspired by Picasso ensemble — Painting by André Derain

The next section is probably my second most favorite – everything arranged by color.    Scaled garments, handbags, hats, perfume, jewelry, drawings,footwear  – all falling together forming an amazing color wheel.  The crowds in this section where packed (and it was hot!) visit now when Paris is cool and tourists are hopefully back in their homes.

 

Yes there is so much more –  stay tuned for more beauty!!!

Markita

Fashion in Art- Selections from the MET

May 2017    New York City

Nothing can make me happier than a whole day wandering at my pace at any major museum.  This adventure found me at the MET

I took a free guided gallery talk “Fashion in Art”.

The guide set the tone dressed fashionably including beautiful walking friendly shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first stop on the tour:  A Roman sculpture (copied from a Greek sculpture) of a women with a basket.  She is wearing a chilton, which is rectangle of cloth folded, draped over the body.  These were probably made from linen.  A peplos was made from heavier materials, usually wool.  Want to make your own?  Check out how at the Kentucky Educational Television site.

Note that historians are convinced that the clothing and the statues that document them were actually brightly colored.  Not the white sheet toga party garment that comes to mind.

Ancient Greek and Roman clothing continues to inspire fashion designers.  This essay and images of clothing in the MET’s collection (see below link) show how these designs elements have been incorporated throughout western fashion’s 600 year history.

Classicism in Modern Dress

 

 

 

Next stop: Courtiers in a Rose Garden Tapestry

Materials: wool, silk and gilt metal thread  Dated to 1440-50 Location south Netherlandish (contemporary Belgian Flanders)

Fashion pointed out in this tapestry:

The rolled headdress of the woman.  Fashion dictated showing lots of forehead, sometimes enhanced by removing hair from the forehead and eyebrows.  The head was topped with a padded roll, sometimes decorated with a veil or jewels.

Men’s jackets became shorter in this time period and were worn with hose.  No knitwear was available so they were cut on the bias to give the ability to stretch and mold to the leg.

Take a close look at the man’s shoes.  These long pointy shoes made from leather or fabric are called poulaine or crackowes.  Historians believe that this fashion moment was inspired by Richard II’s Polish wife Ann of Bohemia.  Extravagant fashion of the court were copied by men and women.

 

Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano) (Italian, Monticelli 1503–1572 Florence) Collection of the MET. Photo owner MET.

 

Bronzino’s oil portrait of a young man painted in the 1530’s gives us two fashion items.

First the flat soft brim hat depicted was on of several types of men’s hats worn during this period.

The young man’s jacket features a decorative effect called slashing.  This fashion evolved from the practice of the Swiss army in a successful battle in 1477 over Charles the Bold.  The battle worn army cut up banners and tents and wove the scraps through the holes in their uniforms.  This fabric manipulation was imitated by the wealthy and remained popular through the 1500s.
Read more: http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/European-Culture-15th-Century/Dagging-and-Slashing.html#ixzz4nxVgEms6

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and His Wife (Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836) Artist:Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels) Collection of the MET, photo by the MET

 

 

Paris, France.  This painting depicts a new fashion of women’s dresses created from imported fine white cotton.  This fashion inspiration comes from Marie Antoinette and her pastime of dressing as an idealized common milkmaid.  The sudden increase in this gauzy cotton brought about a decrease for French silk.  During this time up to 20,000 silk looms in France ceased to operate, leading to joblessness and discontent.   Did this change in fashion contributed to the French Revolution?

Also in fashion during this time for both men and women – powdered wigs.  Powdered wigs become popular when King Louis XIV of France and his cousin Charles II King of England started wearing them.  Wigs were popular during this time to hide hair loss due to syphilis.  In addition, shaving the head to make the wig fit also made it easier to control head lice.  Ewww, I almost wish I hadn’t learned those facts!

 

And finally on this fashion in art tour, Madame X.

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)
Artist:John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London) Collection of the MET, photo by the MET

The description of the painting is as follows by the MET.

Madame Pierre Gautreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859–1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait. Working without a commission but with his sitter’s complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder. At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise. Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years. When, eventually, he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done,” but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter’s name.

Virginie was know to use lavender colored face and body powder and to color her hair and eyebrows with henna.  She was known not only as a beauty but for her her extra-marital affairs.  When the painting was shown society felt that Singer Sargent was flaunting her overt sexuality with the flirtatious pose and the virtually strapless deep v neckline of her dress.   Both Virginie and her mother asked for the painting to be removed from public display, and because of the scandal she was forced to retire from society.  And when donated, the painting became Madame X to protect her name.

 

 

I hoped you enjoyed this virtual accompaniment of my tour of the MET.    Next up the Rei Kawakubo exhibit.

 

 

 

I am happy to answer any questions about this New York visit.  Photos not from the MET’s collection were taken with my Samsung Galaxy 8.  All photographs not credited are the property of ByMarkita and are copyrighted.  See copyright page for details.

Accommodations were at Hotel:  Hampton Inn Manhattan Madison Square Garden Area