My trip to Paris during its latest fashion week was to see the Yohji Yamamoto show – which as an avid follower I found this time did not hang together in the way it usually does. However, my main purpose was to visit a number of fashion exhibitions.
These exhibitions; Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons and Chloe were all thought provoking, but it was Chloe that was the most memorable. All three shows reflected different approaches to fashion curation, which as someone from a fine art background I always find stimulating. The Comme des Garcons and Balenciaga exhibitions are on display by the Siene and they are given an extra dimension by being co-located. They are interesting because they demonstrate the relationship that dress has to form and function. And illustrate how Christobel Balenciaga and Rei Kubuko are masters in construction. Balenciaga in terms of the curation was simple and straightforward making connections between historic dress, showcasing drawings and illustrations from the history of the house alongside a number of key pieces.
Comme des Garçons
The quality of the textiles and simplicity of the form were stunning and explains why his work still casts a long shadow. The Comme des Garcons, in contrast to the almost exclusively black garments in Balenciaga, was all white and from the latest collection. Held in plastic pods like some form of alien life-form, the dresses were connected and related to head-dresses and wigs, showing a bold, sculptural and architectural interest in dress. Where Balenciaga is so much the couturier, so Rei is the artist – the sculptor of dress. However, for me it was the Chloe exhibition, which was a master of how curation can reveal new aspects and ideas about dress.
Normally I am not so interested in the work of the Chloe House finding it too feminine, but Judith Clark’s curation allows you to see the history, creativity and joyfulness within the clothes. It gives the context of the archives and shows the photographers who have documented the collections- from for example, Horst, Parkinson, Bourdin, Bailey, to Richardson and Sims which in itself was interesting – as you can see the progression of fashion photography through the work of a single house. But most significantly this exhibition is wonderful because it draws out and identifies links, patterns and themes – energy, games, nature, for example – that the house has explored throughout the decades and this was a revelation.