2 posts tagged "Charles Frederick Worth"
The signature struts of today’s catwalkers, such as Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss, can be traced back to the early twentieth century, when the shift toward movement and modernity produced a desire to see clothes in motion. Staged in the U.S. and France, these first fashion shows were—as Caroline Evans posits in her new book, The Mechanical Smile—”a nodal point” for the convergence of everything from visual art and cinema to international trade and women’s liberation. “This shift occurs in the same period as cinema, so you have lots of moving devices, and people were particularly fascinated by the technology,” Evans, a professor of fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, told Style.com from London. “Collectively, it contributed to a sense of modernity and a sense of speed and acceleration.”
Though not the first designer to use live models, Charles Frederick Worth was, in the nineteenth century, among the earliest dressmakers to account for movement in his creations. And later, Lady Duff-Gordon and the House of Lucile, as well as Paul Poiret, among others, helped foster the early twentieth-century rise of the fashion show. In time, models replaced the practice of using dolls to sell clothes. “The most pioneering designers were all excellent sales promoters,” Evans said. “Fashion is an industry. It’s a creative industry, but there’s no reason why you can’t sell creativity.”
It’s ready-to-wear time, but the fashion set will fete made-to-measure clothes tonight when Paris Haute Couture opens at the Hôtel de Ville. The Swarovski-sponsored exhibition showcases one hundred pieces from the Musée Galliera’s archives and a few loans from private collections. According to curator Olivier Saillard, the Galliera’s director, it tells a chronological story, starting with Charles Frederick Worth at the turn of the century (the show’s first dress was owned by the Comtesse Greffulhe, who inspired Marcel Proust’s Duchesse de Guermantes) and ending with one of the final pieces Cristóbal Balenciaga made before he shuttered his couture business in 1968.
Many of the dresses are juxtaposed with contemporary pieces; “For me, haute couture is not a discipline slave to the present,” Saillard explained. A Galliano-designed Dior, for example, is matched with Paul Poiret, while a 1920s Chanel is paired with a dress from Bouchra Jarrar’s latest couture collection. Saillard has affection for every piece in the show, but he’s partial to the 1930s. “The thirties is the most elegant period. There were a lot of women designers: Vionnet, Chanel, Schiaparelli—that means something,” he said. “They didn’t see back to the past, they see only the future.” As for couture’s future, Saillard says it’s not dead. “There are a lot of designers interested in haute couture: Raf Simons at Dior; Comme des Garçons is doing another kind of couture; Nicolas Ghesquière was, for me, a good designer who could make haute couture.”
Paris Haute Couture is free to the public from March 2 through July 6, at the Hôtel de Ville.