Since many of you will be heading to Paris this week for men’s fashion week and/or tradeshows, I thought I’d offer up some suggestions while you’re here. I’d highly suggest a visit to Musée d’Orsay for the current (until January 20th) exhibition on Impressionism and Fashion.
L’impressionnisme et la mode features an uncommon connection between artists Renoir, Monet, Manet, and Degas and fashions of the time. Spanning 1860 to 1880, the exhibit features over 80 paintings and 30 garments, with the added benefit of seeing some of the actual garments side-by-side with the artwork.
Given my profession, I found the start of the exhibit particularly fascinating, featuring the first fashion magazines that appeared at the end of the 19th century along with dresses Parisians would have worn. Ladies of the time would ask their dressmakers to replicate styles on the magazine pages or simply order couture. What’s more meaningful is that this exhibit identifies the role fashion played in French culture – a new phenomenon at the time – which just happened to emerge at the same time as Impressionism.
Part of the exhibit stages a fashion show by way of Manet paintings lining the room, red carpet and gilded chairs with names of society women of the time.
And while women’s fashion is the main focus, men’s fashion is also featured with tailoring, top hats and such.
At the end, visitors are welcomed into a faux garden, lined with astro-turf and birds chirping on the soundtrack, with impressive works such as Gustave Courbet’s Demoiselles.
After Paris, the exhibit will travel to New York and Chicago, however those showings will not feature any garments. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, through January 20th. Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 26 to May 27th. Art Institute of Chicago, June 25th to September 22nd.