Fashion ! In town on stage
From 8th April to 17th September 2017
Worth, Poiret, Lanvin, Chanel, Balmain, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Lacroix… Here are the greatest names of the history of fashion and theater. With Fashion! In town, on stage, the National Center of Stage Costume focuses on the connections between the history of fashion and stage costumes from the XVIIIth century to the present. With more than 130 costumes from its own collection or provided by major fashion museums, the CNCS showcases the evolution of the feminine silhouette in the city as well as on the stage. The CNCS gives its visitors the opportunity to discover various epochs thanks to costumes and gowns worn by female artists, actresses and ballerinas, among whom iconic figures: Sarah Bernhardt, Cléo de Mérode, Madeleine Renaud and Isabelle Huppert, to name just a few of them.
« Stage costumes and city outfits do not serve the same purposes. On stage, costumes have a threefold function. They underline specificities, exemplify roles and blend within the atmosphere of the play. In town, outfits dress their owners with or without ostentation and reveal their social status. This exhibition does not intend to compare the history of those two means of expression throughout three centuries, but to highlight the moments when they interlock, engendering innovations. »
Catherine JOIN-DIETERLE, curator of the exhibition
As soon as the visitors enter the first room, they discover costumes, sketches and models by Jeanne Lanvin, Christian Lacroix and Jean-Pierre Capeyron. All bear witness to the mutual influences between fashion and theatre. Since the Ancien Régime, those influences have transformed stage costume workshops into laboratories of fashion innovations.
Thanks to a rich chronological visit of 13 rooms, the visitors cover three centuries of fashion history and are invited to gaze at costumes of various inspirations. In the XVIIIth century, Classicism and Exoticism dominated. One hundred years later, Romanticism brought the Renaissance back into fashion. In the early 1900s, designers such as Jeanne Lanvin and Paul Poiret were considerably influenced by Diaghilev and his Ballets russes. Meanwhile, in their workshops, stage costume designers created outfits inspired by fashion designers. They did so to satisfy the demands of actresses. These reciprocal influences, have often played an important role, as is illustrated by the arrival of contemporary gowns on stage. Such was the case with the déshabillé as early as the XVIIIth century.
The exhibit also stresses the key role actresses played. Since the late 1880s, actresses, costume designers and fashion journals have constituted a powerful trio. Iconic stars, like Sarah Bernhardt in the XIXth century or Isabelle Huppert nowadays, have given designers great visibility. This commercial force is still present today with the red carpets during great film festivals or with the défilés during the Fashion Weeks much covered by the media. Well, the CNCS presents an unique history of fashion through stage costumes: the Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Romantic Era and the Belle Époque… All the significant moments of the link fashion/theaterare represented. The contemporary period is also enhanced, notably by gowns worn by Isabelle Huppert at the Théâtre de l’Odéon and by Marilus Marini at the Théâtre National de Chaillot.