Thursday, May 17, 2012
Fashion is As Fashion Does
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs puts on some very interesting exhibitions and the current one is no exception. Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs is in fact two parallel exhibits, the first focussing on how Louis Vuitton took advantage of the 19th century boom in upper class travel to build one of the world's first luxury goods companies, and the second on how Marc Jacobs built on that base to bring the company into the 21st century of globalized fashion.
Leaving aside the question of whether or not you are interested in fashion history or social change, the exhibit is stunningly presented and worth seeing for that alone.
It was difficult to get good photos given the lighting, but not only did I love seeing it with a fashion historian who added a lot of valuable context, but Gene went with 20 year-old Xavier, a student of business here in Paris, and they both loved it as well. Something for everyone.
Our fashion odyssey didn't stop there. For several years there's been a strange empty building with a wavy green roof along the Seine just past the Gare d'Austerlitz. There were rumors that it was to be some sort of cultural venue but not much ever happened.
It has finally begun to be used as les Docks en Seine, which includes temporary exhibit space for the Musée Galliera, the fashion museum that seems to be permanently closed for lack of funds. Last year the Galliera put on an excellent show of Madame Grès' designs at the Musée Bourdelle, contrasting her sculptural dress forms with Bourdelle's sculptures in the same space.
This year two shows have open in the strange green-roofed building: a collection of clothes designed by the legendary couturier Cristobal Balenciaga, along with fashions and fabrics from the 17th to 19th centuries that inspired his work, and next door, Rei Kawakubo's current collection for Comme des Garçons, all in white and displayed under plastic domes.
All these exhibits are worth seeing as historical and sculptural art even if you have very little interest in fashion per se.