Fashion Fieldtrip

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When it comes to fashion exhibitions, for my money no one can touch the French and amongst the French, no one can touch Olivier Saillard, curator of the Palais Galliera, Paris’s foremost fashion museum. M Saillard’s 2010 Madame Gres exhibition remains my all-time favourite ever for its sheer inventiveness in bringing to life the designer and her work by displaying her dresses to stunning effect in a sculpture museum.  The opportunity to see the Saillard treatment applied to Jeanne Lanvin in a restored Palais Galliera was too good to miss and so I decided to plan a day trip to Paris to visit.

While I am an avid fashion exhibition-goer, I now wonder whether I have overdone it somewhat by scheduling visits to three Paris fashion exhibitions in one day trip.  We’ll see; but with such a mesmerising trio of delights on offer at the moment, I just couldn’t resist, so here’s the schedule.

I plan to start with Jeanne Lanvin at Palais Galliera and I’m really looking forward to this, especially after reading Suzy Menkes great review in Vogue.  I am also a huge fan of Alber Ebaz and so will be fascinated to compare his work with that of the House’s founder.   

Next stop will be the Pierre Berge Yves Saint Laurent Foundation to see Yves Saint Laurent 1971, the Scandal Collection and to take a tour of the designer’s studio in Avenue Marceau.  Just recently I acquired a copy of the book accompanying the New York Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition organised by Diana Vreeland in 1983 and with the recently published Lou Lou de la Falaise by Ariel De Ravenel and Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, together they’ve given me a totally fresh appreciation of YSL. As if that were not enough, I go there with the words of Meredith Etherington-Smith ringing in my ears, smitten by desire for a lilac chubby after seeing the historic 1971 show.

My final stop will be at the Grand Palais to see The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Having managed to miss it during its London residency, I feel even happier to see it in the context of the designer’s home city.  JPG was one of the first fashion designers I became aware of in the 1980s, and I especially loved his work for Hermes between 2003 and 2010 and his couture in recent years.

Despite all three being Parisian designers, I’m finding it hard to think of a more eclectic combination, from exquisite embellishment to masculine tailoring to tribal-tinged corsetry.  It will result in either deep enlightenment or utter bewilderment.

One thing is for sure: I shall return hauling my own weight in exhibition catalogues, to which I’ll have added a stack of glossies at the Gare du Nord.  The more I reflect on this, I feel I should have planned better for a full husky team, luggage sled and emergency provisions.  As it is I’ll have to improvise with a Sonia Rykiel tote and a jambon-beurre. Full reports will follow, assuming I make it back.

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