Palais Galliera’s New Exhibition Views Iconic Couture From A Different Angle | Verve Magazine
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July 26, 2019

Palais Galliera’s New Exhibition Views Iconic Couture From A Different Angle

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

Training its lens on the backs of creations by iconic designers like Chanel, Martin Margiela, Azzedine Alaïa and Yves Saint Laurent, the exhibition shifts the focus to that part of the garment that the wearer never sees

We have a complicated relationship with our back. If one were to consider it, it is possibly the most sensuous part of the body, yet one we see least often and only in the mirror when we do. Even when you’re wearing an ensemble that has an intricately designed back, you can’t really tell how viewers are reacting to it since your face is turned away from them. And yet, fashion constantly seeks to emphasize the back — either by revealing it through plunging backlines, decorating it through majestic trains or burdening it through the weight of a backpack. Palais Galliera’s latest off-site exhibition Back Side – Fashion from Behind, being showcased at Musée Bourdelle, focuses on clothing, as seen from the rear. At times exposed, at times shrouded in mystery the flattest zone of the body has witnessed messages and patterns of captivating designs.

This subliminal exhibition of clothing and accessories from the collections of the Palais Galliera presents over a hundred items from the 18th century up to the present day along with a selection of film extracts and photographs. Spreading across the Great Hall of Plasters, the contemporary Portzamparc extension and Antoine Bourdelle’s studio, it has the mannequins interspersed with the works of the prolific 20th-century French sculptor. Like a resilient cord that connects art to fashion, Bourdelle’s powerful works spark a dialogue with the iconic designs of the biggest names in fashion like Raf Simons, Yves Saint Laurent, Azzedine Alaïa and Thierry Mugler. Politically woke Twitterati will also recognise the Zara parka jacket, infamously worn by Melania Trump to a child detention centre reading: ‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ And while none of the designs are available for purchase no matter how covetous you feel, you can get your hands on a book featuring a foreword by Yohji Yamamoto at the gallery.

“Back Side – Fashion from Behind” by Palais Galliera is on display until November 17, 2019 at the Musée Bourdelle, 18 Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris.

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