Fashion as art

A blogger I admire very much, Denise, writes about her life in Bolton, which includes frequent visits to Paris. She’ll write about cycling with our mutual friend Jane, going off to the races with her beloved husband Michael, or savouring peaceful moments on her own.

A year ago today Denise wrote about an exhibit at the Centre Pompidou honoring the artist Gerhard Richter. She tells the story of seeing one of his paintings and having it touch her very soul. I was so jealous when I read that. I love art, frequent museums and exhibitions regularly enough to be considered a junkie, and yet I had never felt moved to tears over art.

Until last week. And many would even consider it art. I was at the Haute Couture exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville, a free exhibit featuring one of Paris’ most important industries. The show began upstairs with pattern samples and sketch books. There was a series of photos featuring the hands of famous designers, including Mme Coco.

It was lovely, and informative, but the real goods were downstairs where Haute Couture dresses from the studios of every major designer, from Frederick Worth, who founded Haute Coutre in the 1850’s to today’s Jean-Paul Gualtier. The masterpieces of houses that did not survive the death of their designer like Poiret, Vionnet, and Schiaparelli were all on display. Icons of modern style like Courrèges, Balanciaga, and Alaïa were there, as well.

And it was all so beautiful, the sumptuous folds, stunning bead work, masterful pleats. These men and women had a away with fabric and they knew (or know) how to show off a woman’s body, curves and all, to its very best.

And there, between a Dior and a Grès, my eyes began to sting and the tears to spill at the tremendous beauty of it all.


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4 thoughts on “Fashion as art

  1. Isn’t that exhibit divine?!! Dennis and I visited that beautiful exhibit when we were there in April. I was afraid that Dennis might be bored but he really got into looking at the dresses. In fact, we spent quite a bit longer in the exhibit than I thought we would because we took time to appreciate the beauty and artistry of the designers’ works of art. Many of those dresses were truly breathtakingly beautiful!

    I also appreciated that there were dresses from as far back as the late 1880s all the way up to the present. It was interesting to see how the styles for women changed over the course of all those years.

    I would dearly love to return and see that exhibition again.

  2. Hi Sylvia, well I am very flattered by your remarKs from a writer such as you. Without this sounding like e a mutual admiration society, I am sometimes in awe of the words you use to describe things.

    I loved that Richter exhibition at the Pompidou, although I didn’t have the same extreme emotional reaction second time I really could appreciate the diversity of his talent.

    As to the Haute Couture at Hotel de Ville. I was so glad to see it myself in June and I am so glad it moved you.

    I also found the exhibits beautiful and awe inspiring. However, like a lot of other art after about an hour I just found it all so overwhelming and I had had enough, a bit like when you eat too much good food at a meal. “overfaced” as my mother would say.

    As I remarked in my blogpost about it, my observation was that a lot of the 20th century clothes could still be worn today. they are so timeless.

    Clothes can be art. I like to look at the designer window displays on Ave Montaigne when I am in Paris. To me these are as much an art form as anything else.

    Love Denise

    • You’re right about that fashion being wearable today. I’d have worn nearly everything I saw there! If you ever want to go in to those shops on that avenue, let me know… it’s quite fun to touch and feel the fabrics, seeing how its all put together!

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