Monday, January 30, 2017

PARIS REFASHIONED, 1957-1968 at FIT: Review By Polly Guerin

Does French Haute Couture Matter? Mais, pourquoi pas? Why not? As Marcel Proust wrote, "Recherche du temps perdu!" (Remembrance of Lost Time) Fashion also continues to reflect on its glorious past. In its latest exhibit The Museum at FIT examines the combined influences of French Haute Couture, ready-to-wear, and popular culture of the era. The exhibit spans eleven years of style innovation and unforgettable design with particular emphasis on how fashion was perceived and promoted by the American fashion press.
      In order to rediscover one of the most ground breaking time periods in fashion History The Museum at FIT's exhibition PARIS REFASHIONED, 1957-1968 reassures us that while this era positioned London as the center of innovative, youth-orientated design, this limited perspective overlooks the significant role Paris continued to play in the fashion industry. Designers featured in the show include Christian Dior, Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld, Hubert de Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent and others,  Associate curator of accessories Coleen Hill and colleagues have selected all the objects on view from the Museum of FIT's permanent collection of more than 50,000 objects. The exhibition on view from February 10 - April 15, 2017.
A 1950s COUTURE SALON The exhibition's introductory gallery includes a selection of more than 30 haute couture garments and accessories from the era. Let your imagination soar and vicariously imagine you are in Paris. The clothing is arranged in a setting designed to resemble a 1950's couture salon when the then 21-year old Yves Saint Laurent, promoted creative director in 1957 of Christian Dior, ushered in a demarcation, a shift toward a more relaxed and, ultimately, more youthful design.
Balenciaga "Baby Doll"dress---Chanel  1959---Andre Courreges suit
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's iconic suit includes a 1959 version in red wool tweed with artfully notched "tulip"-shaped pockets. Her suits were made in endless variations and became a signature of her work during the 1950's-60s. It is interesting to note that women of all ages embraced Chanel's modern, easy-to-wear clothing. Even the working gal embraced the look wearing copies manufactured by cheap imitators. Caption: Cristobal Balenciaga, "Baby Doll" dress, circa, 1957 gift of "The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the estate of Ann E. Woodward. Chanel, suit, fall 1959, gift of Mrs Walter Eytan and Andre Courreges, suit, 1961. donated in the memory of Isabel Eberstadt by her family.

VISITING A PARIS BOUTIQUE While the introduction of 1950s haute couture is essential to the history of French fashion, the majority of the exhibition is devoted to the dynamic designs of the 1960s  Let's go shopping; the larger gallery space, designed to evoke a 1960s boutique, highlights a number of fashions by Andre Courreges, a protege of Balenciaga including a three-piece suit, which includes a wool jacket cut in a unique, scultpural silhouette.  Space Age fashion include his famous white leather boots and a dress trimmed in black vinyl. With Pierre Cardin revisit his "Cosmos" collection including a mini dress that features cutouts over the breastbone. The look of knee-length boots, and a helmet-style hat, helped to further Cardin's reputation as an avant-garde couturier.
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, raincoat
FRENCH READY-TO-WEAR The success of Pret-a-Porter, French ready-to-wear,  had a profound impact on the couture industry. The exhibit features one of Saint Laurent's earliest Rive Gauche creations, a raincoat made from bright yellow vinyl with chunky, knitted wool sleeves.  Looks familiar?  A black version version of this raincoat was worn by Catherine Deveuve in the 1967 film Belle de Jour, for which Saint Laurent designed the costumes. Caption: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, raincoat, 1966, gift of Ethel Scull.
     Paris Refashioned concludes in 1968, the year Courreges opened his first ready-to-wear boutique in New York Meanwhile, his mentor, the great couturier Balenciaga, decided to close his house after more than 30 years.
   The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same title, to be published by Yale University Press in spring 2017.
     FREE admission. The Museum at FIT is located at 27th Street and Seventh Avenue. Hours Tuesday-Friday, noon-8pm. Saturday, 10-5pm, Closed Sunday, Monday and Legal Holidays.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  It's deja vu, it's time to revisit fashion in all its innovative glory and to relive the time when fashionable women made the world so elegant and charming.  Fan mail always welcome at  Visit Polly's other Blogs as and click in the left-hand column the links to women determined to succeed (amazingartdecowomen), men remarkable visionaries, poetry from the heart and the fashion historian.

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