“Paris Refashioned” Exhibit Shows Evolution of French Ready-To-Wear
The Museum at FIT is highlighting an evolution of fashion design in an exhibit called “Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968.” Open through April 15 this year, the exhibit shows “one of the most groundbreaking time periods in fashion history,” according to the exhibition page.
The “Paris Refashioned” collection is drawn from among the more than 50,000 items the museum already has in its permanent inventory. The time of focus was a period of dynamic change in the fashion industry; however, many historic perspectives for the period focus on London fashion. The exhibition focuses on ready-to-wear fashion, haute couture, and culture in France. It also examines the influence of the American press.
The collection identifies work by Yves Saint Laurent, who at 21 took creative lead at Christian Dior’s couture house, as a signal of a movement in fashion. Designs became less restrictive, and, according to the Museum at FIT, more youthful. One piece emblematic of this movement was a black wool A-line “trapeze” dress, a loose-fitting piece that Saint Laurent introduced in his initial collection done solo while at Dior.
The collection will also show a dress Saint Laurent introduced in 1959, from a collection whose shorter skirts “caused a stir” at the time, according to FIT.
Other designers who influenced the evolution of fashion in the 1950s will feature in the collection as well. Those include Pierre Cardin, who would eventually be known for a futuristic style; Cristóbal Balenciaga, another signaler for more relaxed styles; and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, known for her suits.
Although 1950s fashion prefaces the collection, the focus will be on the 1960s work. André Courrèges, a designer who influentially rejected couture’s formalities and helped usher in the avant-garde; Emmanuelle Khanh, a ready-to-wear pioneer; and Gaby Aghion of Chloé, accredited as the starter of ready-to-wear luxury for women in France are all among the movers and shakers featured.
The movement from pure couture to a blend of couture and ready-to-wear changed the French fashion industry and occurred at a time where not only the culture of design but style itself was transforming. The “Paris Refashioned” collection illuminates those changes, chronicling a crucial period of fashion history.