Fashion designers for dance, from Chanel to Versace Centre national du costume de scène
More than any other century, the 1900s were the century of dance. From the Ballets Russes to modern dance, from Pina Bausch's Tanztheater to the French New Wave of the 80s, the movements came in quick succession, sometimes in opposition to one another, and other times in response. And with this freedom of movement came freedom of the body. Very early on, fashion designers all suddenly became interested in dance: ultimate pioneer Gabrielle Chanel and then Yves St Laurent would make movement fashionable. Dance came onto the scene hard on the heels of creators such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld and Maria Grazia Chiuri. The most prominent designers of the 2000s would follow suit. Each of them found that dancers were the ideal partner. FASHION DESIGNERS FOR DANCE brings together 130 pieces to recount a journey through the century, based on various themes.
Salon d'honneur - Carnet de bal
The Fashion Designers for Dance exhibition opens with magical creations. In response to the opulence of Hervé L. Leroux's works in grand ball gowns for modern princesses, Jean Paul Gaultier blended the tutu and marinière. As for Chanel: her work shows a kind of French chic in motion. On the 2nd floor, the four themes of the exhibit are set out in turn: Shapes, Second Skin, Not So Classical, and Materials.
Room 1—Reinventing Shapes
This room opens the dance, unveiling the work of some of the most insightful fashion designers of the time and their unexpected approach to shapes. Here, the white unitard tutu has become square and even looks nibbled in Viktor & Rolf's creation for the Dutch National Ballet, which resembles a contemporary sculpture (Gareth Pugh for the London Royal Ballet). As for Belgian creator Walter Van Beirendonck, he caused a stir with unusual silhouettes somewhere between fantasy and creativity in Sous Apparence, Marie-Agnès Gillot's first choreography for the Paris Opera.
Room 2—Reinventing Shapes
Jean Paul Gaultier holds a place of honor here for his collaboration with choreographer Régine Chopinot. These five costumes and their animal masks fit his areas of research: conical breasts, bustiers, and armored corsets. Deranged humor wedded to the severity of couture. The works of English duo BodyMap for choreographer Michael Clark also share this room. This British style with a touch of eccentricity is extraordinary. Finally, Paris-dwelling American Rick Owens makes his unusual mark.
Room 3—Second Skin
In this display, the second skin starts out in the style of Christian Lacroix and Adeline André, playing with the movement of dance. Revealing—a little—or concealing—a lot—is an art. Two costumes from the Maison Christian Dior (by Maria Grazia Chiuri) from the Rome Opera Ballet complete this scene. They are displayed for the first time in a French institution. This display pays homage to the skill and knowledge of fashion creators, highlighting the work of the sewing workshops of the Paris National Opera and Lyon Opera.
Room 4—Second Skin
Showcasing a major theme of the exhibition in these three rooms, this part focuses on costume as the second skin of the performer, designed to highlight their lines and curves. Devoted to the orders made by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo (directed by Jean-Christophe Maillot) to creators and designers, this space reveals costumes in rooster feathers, print effects—including quilted—and trimmings to highlight the dancing body. Duo On Aura Tout Vu or Charlie Le Mindu, not forgetting to mention Jérome Kaplan, the latter a star dance costumier, are brought together here in an original staging.
Room 5—Second Skin
For Balmain (by Olivier Rousteing), this "skin" is precious, embroidered with stones, pearls, and sequins. The body or jacket are covered in gems for Renaissance, an original creation by Sébastien Bertaud for the Paris Opera. For Givenchy (by Riccardo Tisci), the skin is made of lace for a Bolero imagined by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet, and Marina Abramovic.
Room 6—Daniel Larrieu
A major choreographer of the French New Wave in the 80s and 90s, Daniel Larrieu was always close to fashion and creators. Some of his costumes are currently kept at the National Center for Theater Costume This room holds a selection drawn from his trilogy Les Marchands/Les Bâtisseurs/Les Prophètes, which was an unadulterated choreographic success. Borrowing from the history of costume like the craziest of off-the-rack stores, this ensemble is bursting with visual inventions.
Room 7—Painters and Dance
The first of these two displays shows a creation by Romain Brau drawing inspiration from a painting by Matisse. It was worn by dancer and choreographer François Chaignaud for a special recital.
Room 8—Painters and Dance
The second presents a pleated dress inspired by Bakst, the genius of the Ballets Russes.
Room 9—Not So Classical
Corsets, doublets, and marinières: look around—everything is for dancing! It was in this spirit that Yves Saint Laurent paid homage to Mondrian in Notre Dame de Paris and Karl Lagerfeld showcased military costume. You will also see the "burned" costumes dreamed up by Sylvie Skinazi, occasional collaborator of Christian Lacroix, whose work in dance is a marvel.
Room 10—Crazy Tutus
The tutu, revisited in all its forms by Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Iris van Herpen, and Christian Lacroix. Colors explode everywhere you look in this ode to the creativity of designers revisiting the absolute essential of classical dance. The tutu is not merely white and romantic: it can be multicolored and modern. It's a room where convention is thrown out the window.
An entire room dedicated to Japanese creator Issey Miyake, inventor of the Pleats Please line. It's not widely known, but it was for dance, and William Forsythe's Frankfurt Ballet, that Miyake experimented with this entirely innovative shape memory pleated material. William Forsythe himself chose 15 iconic pieces for the National Center for Theater Costume (CNTC), including those for creations such as The Loss of Small Detail, The Second Detail, and As A Garden In This Setting.
When dance meets materials… of fashion. Chanel worked in jersey for Le Train Bleu, an ode to the great outdoors. Iris van Herpen dreamed up silhouettes laser cut to resemble translucent skins for Clear, Loud, Bright, and Forward. Hussein Chalayan reinvented the title character of L’après midi d'un faune in Faun, choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Lastly, with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Hedi Slimane ventured into leather, wool, and skirts for both men and women for the ballet In Memoriam. Materials in pride of place.
Room 13—The Theater of Fashion
The final room, designed as a stage, is entirely devoted to the collaboration between Gianni Versace and Maurice Béjart. Exceptional works, seen rarely or not at all for years, bring the space to life. Here, you will find anarchist empress Sissi's dress—worn in turn by Sylvie Guillem—or, even rarer, a work for Elégie pour Elle, L., aile (1989) or for the ballet Patrice Chéreau (devenu danseur) in 1988. This room is full of the purest spirit of couture. Finely embroidered tutu dresses are also on display, lending the room a moment of grace. Versace and Béjart, two masters of art, can at last be found in the halls of the National Center for Theater Costume.