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

Pattern Review Weekend 2017 – New York/Brooklyn

Visiting New York again – this time with my sewing sisters.  If you have just started following my blog, let me just say that I sew.  It is a passion, a creative outlet and a boutique business for me.  And there are makers out there that share my passion.  You will find them in the online community located at www.patternreview.com.   Launched 16 years ago by the fabulous Deepika, the site has an international community of over 450,000 members.   You can find reviews of sewing patterns, books, classes, stores, and machines.   And once per year, some of these enthusiasts get together for a weekend of sewing fun and shopping.

First up was a tour of the New York office of the McCall Pattern company (McCall/Butterick/Vogue/KWIK SEW patterns).  We were not allowed to take photos past the entrance, due to all the secret designs coming soon.  It was amazing to see how much creativity is generated by so few employees.   It requires planning and coordination among departments and teams.

We visited the fabric library where swatches are cataloged by color and type.   Learning how Pantone and garment color trends influence the fabrics that are chosen for the pattern sample garments.

One of the most surprising things to me was the reverse engineering that is done to create the Vogue designer patterns.   A team of experienced and talented makers receive the garments from the fashion houses.  Then they create both patterns and instructions with out taking apart the original garments.

We also visited the photo studio, where next season’s shoes were lined up awaiting the models for the next catalog.

The first official day we had a great panel of sewing experts to answer our questions and give us their ideas on the state of the home sewing industry.  The panel featured actress Marcy Harriell known for her blog oonaballona; Meg McDonald, social media manager of McCall pattern company Deborah Kreiling, design development director, Simplicity creative group; and Karen Groner, professor of fashion design, FIT.

Swatch – Mood Fabrics
AKN fabrics 1239 Broadway #507

Day two was fabric shopping!!!  As you can see from my suitcase packed to the 50 lb limit, I had a very successful trip.   Swatch, the famous dog from Mood fabrics (taken on thehttps://bymarkita.com/diy-cord-organizer-travel/ previous New York trip).  Marcy gave us the tip about AKN as a source of wax prints.   I also made purchases at Elliot Berman Textiles and Purl Soho (both opened just for our group); Pacific Trimming.  Going shopping in New York?  Drop me a note and I can share some stores and addresses for fabric fun.

Custom leather handbag ByMarkita Pattern by ChrisW Designs (Uptown Girl)
Travel organizer for chargers and cords ByMarkita

This year the PRweekend “contest” was to create a travel accessory.  Yes, I won the contest with my black and white hair on leather handbag and travel organizer for chargers and cords.  How to make your own

 

I love the sewing community created by Pattern Review – where I hang out until the next PRWeekend!

Rei Kawakubo May 4th – Sept 4th MET

Only the second time in the history of the MET, an exhibit featuring a living fashion designer.  Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons Art of the In-Between.  A link here featuring exhibit photos, downloadable exhibit guide and more.

I visited this exhibit before I traveled to Japan.  I had some preconceived notions of Japanese fashion and culture, a lot were outdated or even wrong.  After spending a week in Toyko, I do appreciate this exhibit and the designer much more.  And Japan has become my favorite country to visit.  That experience in a future blog post.

Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese born fashion designer.  She created her label “Comme des Garçons” (French for “like some boys”) in 1973 in Toyko creating women’s clothes adding a men’s line in 1975.  In 1982 she opened a boutique in Paris and started exhibiting at Paris fashion week.

The 74 year old designers fashions are often described as deconstructed, unfinished, anti-fashion, and avant-garde.

This photo of visitors to the exhibit and the gift shop gives you an idea of the wide range of people attracted by her work.   The young Asian devotee embodies the fluidity of gender, form and function of the exhibited art. Because you constantly ask yourself is this fashion or is it art or does it really matter what we call it?

The exhibit is in an all white space.  Pieces are arranged by number, in groups of “In-Between”.    I have included my selected photos from the exhibit.  Heads and wigs created and styled by Julien dYs for this exhibit.

1: Absence / Presence

2 Dimensions Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body Invisible Clothes

 

The first “In-Between” features a jacket and skirt of red polyester felt from Autumn/Winter 2012-2013 (left in the photo)

The middle two are both from the Spring/Summer 1997 collection and are titled Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body.  They feature red stretch nylon and polyurethane plain weave padded with goose down.

The garment on the right is titled Invisible Clothes constructed of red cotton velveteen and PVC  Spring/Summer 2017

 

 

2. Design / Not Design 

Patchworks and X (left) Spring/Summer 1983 Three garments are Crush Spring/Summer 2013

This photo is part of the second “in-between” .  Another  garment included in this section is  a dress of brown paper styled with a wig made from curly wire.

The garments titled Crush are fashioned from off-white cotton canvas.

Patchworks and X   features a top of off-white cotton knit appliqued with off-white cotton ribbon over a dress of off-white cotton muslin and white rayon satin.

The garments exhibit the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi.  In the book Living Wabi-Sabi, author Taro Gold states “In today’s Japan, the meaning of wabi-sabi is often condensed to “wisdom in natural simplicity”. In art books, it is typically defined as “flawed beauty”

 

 

3. Fashion / Antifashion          4. Model / Multiple    5. High / Low

Ballerina Motorbike Spring/Summer 2005
Bad Taste Autumn / Winter 2008-2009

5.1 Elite Culture /Popular Culture (left)

A close up view of the black leather jacket over a skirt of black tulle.  This section compares the “high” culture of ballet with the “low” culture of bikers.

5.2 Good Taste / Bad Taste (right)

Dresses of white tulle with black elastic trim.  Using textiles considered cheap, and tacky (nylon and polyester) and the culture of street style, the designer changes the view of what is good taste.  The front dress is my favorite in the entire collection.

 

6. Then/ Now 7. Self / Other  – includes 7.1 East / West      7.2 Male / Female  and 7.3  Child / Adult

Persona Autumn/Winter 2006-7 left and middle The Infinity of Tailoring Autumn/Winter 2013-14 right

These three garments are from Male / Female fusing types of clothing typically associated with men and women – such as trousers and skirts – into one outfit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Object / Subject  9. Clothes / Not Clothes 

Far left Tomorrow’s Black Spring/Summer 2009 remaining Not Making Clothing Spring/Summer 2014

 

I included this selection from 9.1 Form / Function because of the inventive heads and wigs.    All of the heads and wigs  for the entire exhibition were created and styled by Julien dYs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  9.2 Abstraction / Representation  9.3 Beautiful / Grotesque  9.4 War / Peace 

9.5 Life / Loss  9.6 Fact / Fiction   9.7 Order / Chaos    9.8 Bound /Unbound

I hope you enjoyed this partial tour of the exhibit.  If you want to learn more click on these sources.

Rei Kawakubo – The Guardian’s interview after the Met’s gala lunch

Available on Amazon:  Japanese Fashion Designers: The Work and Influence of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo by Bonnie English

Vogue on Rei Kawakubo 

 Photos in this post were taken with Samsung Galaxy 8 plus and are copyright.  Please see copyright statement before use.