Fashioning Fashion @ Musee Des Arts Decoratifs, Paris


The Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris is hosting a fabulous show educating the french public about the origins of European Fashion from the early 18th century until the present day. For those lucky enough to be in Paris this April, it is definitely worth a visit.

Every time I come to Des Arts Decoratifs I am impressed with their mannequins and the general staging of their exhibitions. This time I was not left disappointed. The mannequins on display have been adorned with 18th century wigs and poses to match their clothing. We are also treated to male, as well as female fashion.

The most interesting part of the show for me was the display of court dress from the 1760s where dresses were delicately embellished with lace of pure silver and gold thread and sequins. These outfits are even more special in that many of them have not survived due to being unpicked and melted down for their precious metals.

Among the display we see the evolution of undergarments through the ages. On show is a visual evolution of the corset and the introduction of victorian bustles. We are also shown the correct clothing for respectable court etiquette and are given an explanation of fashion during revolution. It is clear that politics has long played an important role in how we dress with an explanation of colonialism and eastern influences in the form of chinoiserie and damask from China and India which seems to be repeating itself today with Prada’s SS13 collection.

The exhibition which finishes with the arrival of Charles Frederick Worth in Paris and the introduction of Haute Couture is a must see for anyone desperate for a refresher in fashion history.

Fashioning Fashion is on Display at Des Arts Decoratifs until 14 April

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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