One hundred and fifty years of history of haute couture trough 100 dresses
chosen from among the most beautiful and refined creations of top designers,
from Worth to Yves Saint Laurent to Christian Dior to John Galliano.
The exhibition “Paris haute couture” was staged at the Hotel de la Ville in Paris
and intends to explore, through clothes, sketches
and photographs the highlights of haute couture.
Mr. Saillard, the director of the Musée Galliera in Paris,
is in love with the life of couture, that is the process that still stirs
in houses like Dior, Chanel and Alaïa,
and that has been preserved in all its minute details
in the archives of the Galliera,down to the bound,
hand-painted sketches of Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet.
“The idea of the exhibit is to explain not only beautiful dresses
but the life of the atelier,” Mr. Saillard said.
In the main gallery at Hôtel de Ville, most of the garments
are displayed in free-standing vitrines,
giving visitors a 360-degree view,
essential for delicate embroideries from the ’20s,
but also for incredibly nimble modern gestures
like the looped back straps of a 1931 creamy Vionnet.
The majority of the exhibition’s pieces are from the 1880s,
the decade of Worth and Rouff, to the late ’60s,
when couture began its decline.
Mr. Saillard is keen to show the interplay between past and present,
and he does so with ease. About 20 percent of the garments
are by living designers, like John Galliano, Christian Lacroix
and Bouchra Jarrar, that is placed next to a 1923 navy beaded Chanel
with handkerchief panels of blue crepe wafting down the back.
A beaded Scheherazade number by Mr. Galliano, for Dior in 1998,
aligns naturally with a 1923 Poiret, while a 1991 bustle-back Lacroix
belongs to the Worth branch of the couture family tree.
The message of the exhibition, Saillard says, is twofold.
“That there is something precious about haute couture,
but also that it is part of our world, our culture.”
The free admission is, he says, a terrific symbol of that.
“Haute couture is special,” says Saillard. “In ready-to-wear,
designers must always be trying to predict the future.
But in haute couture, it can be more relaxed,
and more about the present.”
The exhibition is made possible by the support of Swarovski,
whose crystals embellish many of the dresses,
and Nadja Swarovski was in attendance at the opening.
She hopes this show will celebrate the longstanding relationship
between haute couture and Swarovski.
The exhibition will remain open until July 6, 2013.
“Paris Haute Couture”
Hôtel de Ville – Salle St-Jean
From 2nd March to 6th July 2013