A long white dress with the word “Pace” embroidered in 14 languages appears on the runways of Couture S / S 1991. The decade began with the Gulf War and a world economic crisis; the Times he called haute couture “unwearable and unaffordable” and stylists are looking for new ideas to revitalize the luxury industry. Fashion thus finds its ethical manifesto in Valentino’s “Peace Dress”, for which the couturier will be awarded in Brussels almost twenty years later. In its hieratic candor it translates the spirit of the time, even the darkest one, into an element of beauty, intercepting a new feeling.
We still don’t know for sure how the pandemic will affect future creativity but, if we look at the course of history, at least the most recent one, the brightest fashion came from the darkest times. Not surprisingly, the Roaring Years were born from the rubble of the First World War, a race at breakneck speed in modernity. American billionaires and an international colony of artists arrive in Paris in 1919, while Chanel and Jean Patou open their fashion houses, and clothes (and bodies) are freed from rigid structures and thin, transparent, iridescent with fringes and pearls. Great is the desire to leave the horrors of war behind, to have fun: the eternal party of FS Fitzgerald, which tells of unbridled and poignant feelings.
The intoxication is short, it dissolves with the collapse of the Stock Exchange of ’29 and everything is reduced. Yet even the Depression years – as the exhibition has highlighted Elegance in an Age of Crisis at the Fit in New York in 2014 – they bring technical and aesthetic innovations. Wrapped in sumptuous white foxes, the long shiny satin dresses cut on the bias – Vionnet’s invention – photograph the glamor of the time; Elsa Schiaparelli, who inaugurates her salon in place Vendôme in ’35, makes creative collaborations with Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Dalí, Man Ray, bringing Cubism and Surrealism to clothes.
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Opening: in the trunk that evokes the avenue Montaigne, the miniature clothes of Dior’s A / W 20 couture, inspired by the aesthetics of Surrealism. In 1945, due to the scarcity of raw materials and therefore the impossibility of producing real collections, an exhibition of fashion dolls about 30 centimeters high was created to revive the French fashion industry. The exhibition, entitled “Théâtre de la mode”, was a huge success and became itinerant.