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

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.

 

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