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July 26 2014

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Fashion Week, Seen By A Slightly Jaundiced Eye

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Season in, season out, vintage couture dealer Didier Ludot creates a fashion week happening by displaying selected couture pieces in his Palais Royal shop windows, often highlighting a young designer’s work along the way. This season, the vintage guru takes a slightly different tack, rifling through the work of artist Thierry Bruet for a selection of paintings of fashion’s demimonde, rendered with a slightly cynical edge and a knowing wink. No surprise here; Bruet modeled for Saint Laurent back in the day, so he’s met a character or two.

“I love Thierry’s work—it’s so caustic and insolent,” says Ludot, who owns several pieces. Together, the two assembled a collection of art and fashion to go with it: sky blue and almond green Dior couture pieces from 1968 offset the painting Fashion Week (pictured), and a 1966 Chanel couture suit with a grosgrain bustier keeps company with a portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel at a certain age. An eclectic quartet—a 1937 silk velvet dress by Lanvin, a 1959 tulle dress by Saint Laurent for Dior, a 1963 Balenciaga dress in red gazar with matching cape, and a 1970 orange dress by Courrèges—stand before the artist’s sly ode to vanity, a portraitist rendering a lady in red much younger and more beautiful than she is. Part of the game is recognizing characters drawn from real life (legendary Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, for example), but even the sharpest eyes may not register that Bruet’s work crops up all over town: His bestiaries regularly grace the windows of the Hermès flagship, and selected portraits hang in the bar of the Shangri-La and the spa at the Bristol.

Illustration: Thierry Bruet

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Dept. of Culture