Fashion Exhibition: Fashion Forward. Trois Siècles De Mode (1715-2015) at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs (107, Rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris) is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of its fashion collection with a fashion survey, Fashion Forward. Trois Siècles De Mode (1715-2015), April 7 to August 14, 2016. Not only is the museum responding to their public’s strongly expressed desire to at last be shown an all-embracing panorama of fashion history over several centuries; it will also be an opportunity to showcase the jewels and highlight the particularities of a national fashion and textiles collection curated in full dialogue with the other departments of a museum dedicated to all the decorative arts. The “Fashion Forward, Three Centuries of Fashion (1715-2015)” exhibition will bring together 300 items of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion from the 18th century to today, selected from the museum’s collections to provide a novel chronological overview.rubon1513

The parent organization, Les Arts Décoratifs is a private organization governed by the law of 1901 on not-for-profit associations and recognized as being in the public interest. It originated in 1882, in the wake of the Universal Exhibitions, when a group of collectors banded together with the idea of promoting the applied arts and developing links between industry and culture, design and production. An original, multi-facetted institution, Les Arts Décoratifs pursues the objectives it was given at the outset: “to keep alive in France the culture of the arts which seek to make useful things beautiful” and to maintain close links with industry, forging numerous partnerships with firms operating in various fields.

1. Comme des garçons, Robe, collection prêt-à-porter printemps-été 2015 © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

1. Comme des Garçons, Dress, Ready-to-Wear Collection, Spring/Summer 2015. © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

For many years it was known as the Union centrale des Arts décoratifs (UCAD), but in December 2004 it changed its name to Les Arts Decoratifs while staying true to its original aims of safeguarding the collections, promoting culture, providing art education and professional training, and supporting design.

The Arts Décoratifs are divided between three major sites in Paris:

at 107 rue de Rivoli, the Rohan and Marsan wings of the Louvre house the Musée des Arts décoratifs and the Library des Arts Décoratifs

at 63 rue de Monceau, the Musée Nissim de Camondo is installed in the Hôtel Camondo

and 266 boulevard Raspail has been the home of the Ecole Camondo, a school of design and interior architecture, since 1988 (so-called because it was formerly in the outbuildings of the Hôtel Camondo).

The art and craft workshops known as the Ateliers du Carrousel operate on all three sites.

The Arts Décoratifs fashion collection now comprises more than 150,000 works, ranging from ancient textiles to haute couture creations and emblematic silhouettes of ready-to-wear fashion, but also including accessories, major collections of drawings and photographs, and the archives of iconic creators such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet and Cristobal Balenciaga.

Elsa Schiaparelli, manteau du soir, haute couture automne-hiver 1938-1939 Drap de laine, poche en velours de soie brodée. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

Elsa Schiaparelli, Mantle of the Evening, Haute Couture fall/winter 1938-1939 of woolen cloth, pocket velvet Embroidered silk. UFAC Collection. © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

To mark the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Musée des Arts de la Mode, founded in 1986 on the initiative of Pierre Bergé and the French textile industry with the support of Jack Lang, then culture minister, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is paying tribute to this collective adventure and great ‟fashion moment”. The ‟Fashion Forward, Three Centuries of Fashion” exhibition, casts a new spotlight on one of the richest collections in the world, freed from its display cases in the Fashion galleries to be shown for the first time in the museum’s Nave.

The three hundred pieces, selected from a collection constantly enriched by donations and acquisitions, will take you on a journey through time, highlighting the key moments in fashion history from the very late 17th century to the most contemporary creation. Freeing itself from the dictates of the conservation of works and the stringent conditions of their display, the exhibition is conceived as an ideal museum of fashion, featuring the finest examples of three centuries of creation habitually illustrated in reference books. It also provides a fascinating new insight into fashion’s evolution via its designers, clients and periods, because now more than ever at Les Arts Décoratifs, fashion is treated as an artistic field that has wide-ranging echoes in the museum’s other collections. Fashion is not only a history of evolving techniques, materials and designs but also a history of changing times and attitudes, a reflection of the art of living. Fashion is even more fascinating when it is not self-generating but dialogues with the arts of its time, as did great figures of Couture such as Charles-Frederick Worth, Jacques Doucet, Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

Gabrielle Chanel, robe du soir, 1925 Crêpe et taffetas de soie avec broderies. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

Gabrielle Chanel, evening gown, 1925 Crepe and silk taffeta with embroidery. UFAC Collection © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

In a completely novel manner, the exhibition recreates each of these ‟fashion moments” in its human, artistic and social context, via ellipses illustrating fashion’s constant elective affinities with the decorative arts. Eighteenth-century wood paneling, scenic wallpapers by Zuber, Paul Iribe’s drawings for the ‟Robes de Paul Poiret”, and the straw marquetry doors created by Jean-Michel Frank for the writer François Mauriac, provide perfect settings for fashion’s stylistic expressions and the metamorphoses of the body and style from the 18th century. The exhibition culminates in the effervescence and singular eclecticism of the global contemporary fashion scene, in which the names of the most original creators are now associated with the most ancient fashion houses.

Paul Poiret, robe « Joséphine », 1907 Satin et tulle de soie. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

Paul Poiret, dress ” Josephine “, 1907, Satin, tulle and silk. UFAC Collection © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

Because the entire history of fashion is also a history of the body and style, the exhibition’s artistic direction was entrusted to the British dancer and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, formerly one of the stars of the New York City Ballet and winner of a Tony award for his stage adaptation of An American in Paris in 2014, based on the film by Vicente Minelli. In collaboration with the scenographer Jérôme Kaplan and assisted by Isabelle Vartan, Wheeldon has succeeded in giving the collection a sensual, poetic dimension, breathing new life into these illustrious creations by transforming every stage of the exhibition into a world in itself. Each of these moments is enhanced by a unique collaboration with the dancers of the Opéra de Paris, in which a choreography gracefully casts new light on a silhouette, posture or attitude characteristic of this social and artistic evolution of the body.

Visite, 1870-1890 Cachemire de laine et de soie, application de franges de soie soutaches et pampilles. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

Visit, 1870-1890 Cashmere wool and silk, application of fringes of silk soutaches and tasselled. UFAC Collection © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

Fashion Forward, Three Centuries of Fashion (1715-2015)” is organized by Pamela Golbin, Chief Curator of Fashion and Textiles, 1940 to the Present, with assistance from Denis Bruna, Curator, previous to the 19th century Fashion and Textile collections; Marie-Sophie Carron de la Carrière, Curator in chief, Fashion and Textiles, 1800-1939 and with the cooperation of Curators from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Operating Hours:
Musée des Arts décoratifs:
• Tuesdays to Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• It is open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
• Closed on Mondays.

In 2016, from January 4th to February 17th and from September 18th to October 18th, the Museum will close at 6 p.m. everyday. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Musée Nissim de Camondo:
• Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 5:30 p.m.
• Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Following the terror attacks in Paris on Friday, November 13, 2015 and to ensure the safety of visitors, the museum is strictly applying the security measures decided by the french authorities. The museum is fully opened but luggages and big items are not allowed. Please accept their apologies for the inconvenience and delay which may be caused by the extra security checks at the entrance.