The 1960s were important years for the shaping of the way we think ready-to-wear as well as couture. You always think of Great Britain and London as the epicenter for the youthquake that fashion experienced in the 1960s, but France and Paris actually played a significant part in this era as it had before and still do to this very day.
The overseen French perspective on the time is now being put into the light in New York with the exhibition “Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968” at the Museum at FIT. The exhibition showcases what is called “one of the most groundbreaking time periods in fashion history”.
It examines the mutual impact and influence made by ready-to-wear, French haute couture and popular culture during this period of time. As the exhibition is on American ground there is of course an american twist to the focus. The emphasis is on how the American press perceived and promoted fashion during the era.
But the real excitement of the exhibition is the clothing. All objects on view were selected from the impressive permanent collection of more than 50,000 objects which The Museum of FIT holds. Here we find beautiful dresses, suits, boots and so on from a long list of high fashion names.
The exhibition is compartmentalized into two different time spans starting with 1957-1960. Here the creations of early Dior (by Yves Saint Laurent), Balenciaga and Chanel among others take the spotlight. It is all shown in a classic 50s setting of a French couture salon. Even though the introduction of 1950s haute couture is crucial to French fashion history, the second part of the exhibition is the largest. Here approximately 80 pieces is devoted to showing the style of the years 1961-1968.
The setting is now changed to a typical 1960s boutique. The focus is on the dynamic designs of this time span. The inspiration for designers in this period was everything from astronauts in outer space to future-forward ideas.
An especially important group for the French ready-to-wear revolution was the stylistes. A young group of designers that made an impressive impact on fashion in both France and abroad.
Their influence can be traced in the creations of names such as Yves Saints Laurent. He used his ready-to-wear label, Rive Gauche, to experiment with both materials and ideas that did not go with his couture collections. Thus is Saint Laurent a good example of how the success of ready-to-wear in France had an expansive impact on the minds of couture designers.
The exhibition presents pieces by big couture designers such as Cardin, Courrèges, and Saint Laurent. Furthermore, creations by some of the leading stylistes, namely Emmanuelle Khanh and Paco Rabanne, are shown. It is pieces that are vibrant, youthful and avent-garde, but all very of-the-minute fashions. Along side the creations by the stylistes are beautiful pieces by Sonia Rykel, Karl Largerfeld and Gérard Pipart. This leaves the exhibition to be an impressive and star-studded experience.
The exhibition will be on display until April 15, 2017.