Paris – A new exhibition in Paris marks the Big Bang season of 21st-century fashion, simultaneously tracing the chronology of a year that marks the high point of the ’90s and the “entrance of the new millennium.”
“The 1997 Fashion Big Bang,” which opened Tuesday at the Paley Galleria, explores the time frame between the October 1996 and October 1997 spring 1997 collections that marked the emergence of a whole new generation of designers in dresses and gowns, the opening of Colette, the deaths of Gianni Versace and Princess Diana — and the fashion calendar. Improvement.
The exhibition, which will last until July 16, will feature about 100 exhibits, more than 50 images from the museum’s permanent collections or loans from institutions, brands and private collectors, accessories, photographs, archival documents and even a blue first-generation iMac G3.
“This is an important year because 1997 was the birth of references that are still important,” said Alexander Samson, scientific and general head of the exhibition. Collections, haute couture from 1947 and modern creations.
Opening the exhibit is a G-string from Tom Ford’s Spring 1997 Gucci collection. How “An American [designer] With a marketing perspective” was the start of shaking up the still stagnant European landscape, Samson said.
There was a time when Paris’s star seemed to be fading. Couture was a dying art that the press found boring. Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs and Ford at Gucci contributed to the rise of London, New York and Milan as fashion capitals.
As a result, the designers in Paris “had to respond to their time and context,” the head continued. And that year they had another reason to bring their A-game.
“When Gianfranco Ferre announced his retirement in July 1996, there was an unprecedented frenzy, with designers even applying for the job in the press,” the curator continued.
“And this is the context that touched Bernard Arnault, a key figure in fashion,” said Samson. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was just 10 years old and the businessman named McQueen in succession at Givenchy and John Galliano at Christian Dior in October 1996, followed by Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton in January 1997.
This exhibition is organized in the Salon d’Honneur on the ground floor and in the three galleries on the garden of the museum with a sunset design that seems to come from the laser-engraved statue of “1997” at the entrance, shaking off the shock wave sent that year.
October has become a reference point, as several designs show, starting with a dress from Rei Kawakubo’s “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets” collection that “still comes to mind when you want to explain Comme des Garçons.”
The neighbors are one of Martin Margiela’s “Stockman” waistcoats and trousers. Yohaji Yamamoto coats and hats and a flattering commentary and a soft tailored suit from Belgian designer Anne Demeulemeester. According to Samson, summer was inspired by her idol Patti Smith, who put her on the American map, prompting comparisons to Giorgio Armani.
In the Grande Galerie, the haute couture collections from next January take pride of place: McQueen’s original and cool look inspired by the legend at Givenchy; The first Jean-Paul Gaultier couture show, an incredibly classy offering from the so-called “baby boom” of the ready-to-wear ’80s. Galliano’s Dior debut, which cemented him as a cornerstone, and Thierry Mugler’s “Insects” collection, his second coat of arms.
It was the first year, with Albert Elbaz in Guy Laroche, Martin Sethbon, Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane in Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Olivier Teskens, Stella McCartney in Chloé, and she brought along her friend Phoebe Philo to help. She and the French designer at Balenciaga signed a six-month trial contract: Nicolas Ghesquière.
Retail has also changed. When Colette Rousseau and daughter Sarah Andelman opened Colette at 213 Rue Saint-Honoré in March 1997, “there was no exciting business proposition in the mid-1990s,” says Samson. “[Colette] Reebok Fury is set to bring a ‘concept store’ to the selection of sneakers from Alexander McQueen to Emilio Pucci next to iMac. And [Andelman] It’s also going to support new designers like Jeremy Scott, Samson said.
For all the smoothness, there was a dark side to the year. The death of 20-year-old Italian photographer David Sorrenti from an overdose highlights drug abuse. After this, his mother and then US President Bill Clinton asked the industry to clean up the act.
And of course, that summer saw the assassination of Gianni Versace, days after his last haute couture show in Paris, and the death of Princess Diana in a Paris runway. Elton John, Donatella Versace and Arnott sat at her funeral alongside politicians, heads of state and British and European royalty.
Samson also highlights moments that made fashion an integral part of pop culture, such as the Gaultier-designed wardrobe for Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic The Fifth Element; Walter Van Beirendonck’s bodybuilding six-pack T-shirt for Bono’s The Simpsons episode; And Björk brought the embellishments of many cultures to life in a kimono-inspired McQueen dress for the stunning cover of her “Homgenic” album.
Kawakubo’s costumes for “Scenario,” a ballet by Massey Cunningham, put the Japanese designer on par with artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol who collaborated with the choreographer.
There is one final change that the exhibition highlights. After expressing his desire to move to New York using Robert Mapplethorpe’s “American Flags” photograph in communications, Helmut Lang exhibited his final collection in Paris that same year. “At the time it was considered a slap in the face to the French fashion federation, because people came to Paris and didn’t take off,” says Samson.
Moreover, Lang continued to demonstrate in early September, following a large-scale collection of measures taken. “This is how we ended the fashion month calendar as we know it,” Samson said.
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