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 aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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