There’s been quite a few amazing designer retrospectives as of late: YSL, Vionnet, Yohji Yamamoto, the 30 Years of Japanese design at the Barbican in London, the new Alexander McQueen… And now Madame Grés. Or Alix as she was known at the start of her career.
Its on at the Musée Bourdelle, near the Tour Montparnasse in Paris till July.
I was actually there on Monday with some friends but stupidly forgot that this was Paris and some museums are shut then. Ah, well, you live and learn! It looks amazing from the pictures I’ve seen. Apparently Madame Grés always wanted to be a sculptress hence the poetic display of 80 pieces of her incredibly draped dresses and minimalist sheathes amongst the grecian sculptures at the museum. In my opinion she did achieve her goal, sculpting out of cloth these intricate forms. Like Madeleine Vionnet she was a trailblazer that liberated women from the restrictive corset and she is probably the only couturier of her time you could still wear today and not look like you were wearing “vintage”. Master class. Can’t wait to see it!
“La Couture à L’Oeuvre”
16 rue Antoine Bourdelle
image above, Irving Penn, Inventive Paris Clothes 1909-1939 [The Viking Press, 1977]
Colucci Edizioni, 1980
Sam Haskins is KING. I fell in love with his work last year when I came across his book African Image, in a bookstore in Paris. I posted some of the images from said book [click here to view] and they have received the most hits on this blog. Its pretty clear that I’m not alone in my appreciation. Tommy Hilfiger collaborated with him last year and the result was Fashion Etcetera, a special edition book collating a broad selection of his work from his expansive career.
I’m in Paris again – if anybody knows of any one bed apartments going do let me know – and I happened on an exhibition of his work at the Libraire Ofr. on rue Dupetit-Thouars after dinner. I was so bloody excited. And scared. I’m weak when it comes to books and try to avoid bookshops. Naturelment, the moment I walked through those doors I knew I’d be leaving a few hundred Euros poorer…
Its a great expo. I wasn’t familiar with his calendar works and they’re hung simply in the gallery space at the back. Bloody gorgeous. I’m not sure why I find that 60s softcore vibe so alluring but I was totally hooked. The compositions are quite extraordinary. And the colours! Its quite evident how influential Mr Haskins has been. You’d be hard put to open up a fashion magazine and not see it. With our reliance on digital photography and Photoshop© its just awe-inspiring how Mr Haskins was ahead of the curve, using old school print techniques to create these lush, graphic photo-montages. And narrative. Each image tells a story. But they’re all interlinked by one precise vision. AMAZING_
Calendars and Other Stories
8 July – 22 August 2010
Ofr Bookshop, Libraire, HQ
20 rue Dupetit-Thouars (Carreau du Temple) 75003
I walked away with an original copy of PhotoGraphics and Fashion Etcetera. Now all I need to get my greedy paws on are November Girls, Cowboy Kate and the calendars book.
A truly rare book. Happened upon it in a car boot sale. It accompanied the 1977 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The photographs are by the late Irving Penn and the introduction was penned by the irreplaceable Diana Vreeland. Some of the garments are quite famous, especially the Vionnet knotted 1930s satin sheath and her famous “4 square” dress. Others are less so. The patina of age – yellowing pages, classic typography, dainty but linear mannequins in elegant [is refusal] poses – make this a treasured possession. There can’t be many about. Especially love the way Madame Grès was referred to by her lesser known first name Alix.
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Not sure if the Vionnet retrospective is still on at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre in Paris. If you’re in that neck of the woods it’s a must-see. All those immaculately preserved pieces viewed en masse in one space is a truly remarkable experience. Vionnet’s always been one of my favourite designers but I just never truly understood how forward thinking she was until I saw the show. Awe-struck. It blew my mind to see how much fashion hasn’t moved on from her pioneering work. Fashion lesson indeed.