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July 22 2014

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The Doctor (And Her Bags) Are In

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For her latest collection, Olympia Le-Tan checked herself into Paris’ Museum of the History of Medicine, a nineteenth-century gem tucked upstairs at the Descartes Medical School in Saint-Germain, the site of her presentation Thursday night. It was a telling venue. “People around me were taking strange medications and I sensed a disease vibe in the air,” Le-Tan said. So she and her team set to work assembling first-aid-kit carrying cases, and copying classic-edition covers of psychology tomes and the great novels of madness, drugs, and disease, including Wuthering Heights, Mrs. Dalloway, Valley of the Dolls, and Erich Segal’s tearjerker, Love Story. She called the collection Still Ill, after a song by her beloved Smiths. But if she lamented the persistence of sickness, she offered a few palliatives, too. There were pillbox clutches of “Brozac” (“Which will help your friends put up with you,” she wrote in a collection statement) and “Wiagra” (you can imagine), as well as for Olympia-brand petroleum jelly. And she couldn’t resist styling a few syringe hair clips and nurse uniforms her first foray into clothing. (Her sister, Cleo Le-Tan, modeled one.) These were tucked in between the antique scalpels and other strange tools of medicine’s past in the museum’s display cases as André Saraiva, Olivier Zahm, Garance Doré, and Catherine Baba nibbled Red Cross cupcakes and took each other’s temperatures.

Photo: Courtesy of Olympia Le-Tan

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