The nineties and the first decade of the new millennium brought us an entire spectrum of emotions that the Musée des Arts Décoratifs has decided to commemorate in an intimate look at some of the most influential designers, in the second volume of their retrospective exhibition : Histoire idéale de la mode contemporaine. Starting with Maison Martin Margiela and ending with Balençiaga with sandwiched inbetween everyone from Dries Van Noten to Alexander McQueen to John Galliano, Karl Lagerfield with Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, Prada, Comme des Garçon, Martine Sitbon….and more.
The expo began with these words (translated by me) : The nineties was the decade of maturity. They were also radical years, completely opposing the preceding decade.” …… “The first decade of the millennium were years marked definitively by the graveness of the events that punctuated them. The euphoric start of the new century was in part stunned by world-wide tragedies. The world of fashion put on a more discreet demeanor.”
Each designer that is displayed has several pieces set in a mise-en scène with lighting, and a video of a défilé or two that helps define the artist’s true nature, or inspiration. Some of the artists reinvent themselves over and over, so it is hard to chose one particular collection, but if it can’t pin them down to one style or inspiration it can at least communicate what drives these designers to create, and display what they bring to their art.
Just some of my personal highlights :
Dries Van Noten, his SS2005 show, set to the musical piece “Boléro” by Ravel, with the models walking the length of a podium turned into very long white linen table and the spectators had glasses of wine they were drinking out of, with dozens of chandeliers hanging in a line over the table. The spectacle was so breathtaking that I forgot to look at the clothes!
Lanvin, by Claude Montana, with stiff form holding pieces made mostly out of silk. The amount of work it must have taken to find the right composition so that the fabrics held these very striking forms…it’s a science really.Plus the video of his Automn-winter 1990-1991 and Spring-Summer 1992 where a stunning Linda Evangelista walks the podium, and the collection is full of that sheer classy elegance that Lanvin is famed for.
Alexander McQueen’s Spring-Summer 2004 collection shown in the form of a 30 minute show that was inspired from the novel “They shoot horses don’t they” (1935) that was turned into a movie by Sydney Pollack, 1969, (which I have actually seen many years ago); a story about a dance marathon during the Great Depression, starring Jane Fonda, that tries to take a look at what desperate people will put themselves through. It’s a study in psychology more than a fashion show, and gives a hint to those emotions that simmered within this incredible artist.
Dior’s gown, from the 2004-2005 collection, by John Galliano, shows the bottomless source of over-the-top creativity of the designer for this couture house. The gown gives a whole new meaning to the shape of a woman, and although it is different and not common, it is beyond beautiful, and displays the fact that couture is art first and fashion second.
A Dolce & Gabana bodice made entirely out of gem-like “stones”. from the Autumn-winer ’91-’92 collection at the start of the nineties, that was shown to mixed Madaonna hits, and was composed of mostly whites, contrasting with what most palettes are composed of for winter wear, this blinged-out bodice shows the remnants of the 80’s that influenced fashion is such a dramatic way. (sorry for the poor photo quality, photos are not allowed at this museum, and I was taking clandestine ones with my phone).
The previous collection I mentioned, contrasts so greatly with the Victor and Rolf Autumn-winter 2001-2001 collection where forms were larger-than-life, colors were steel-grays and moody blacks, and the défilé had models with faces painted entirely in a dark soot color. This shows the mood of the start of the new century, and the somber turn fashion took almost as if it were anticipating the mourning to come after the tragedies that were about to unfold…
To end on a happy note, with a theme that is becoming as common in our daily lives as breakfast : recycling. E2, a line created by a couple of designers that uses vintage pieces found in flea-markets, vintage clothing stores and elsewhere, and remakes them completely or reuses the fabrics to create an entirely different piece. I love the eco-friendly aspect of re-using, and the creativity of finding a new soul for an old article of clothing.
Exhibit until May 8, 2011
Les Arts Décoratifs – Mode et textile
107 rue de Rivoli
Students under 26 get in for FREE!