The riskiest, potentially most contentious fashion prove to of couture week did not, as it happens, take place throughout couture at all. It was not held in Paris, it was not on the official routine and it did not involve clothes to sell.
It was the exhibition “Couture/Sculpture,” a display of 65 garments by Azzedine Alaïa at the Villa Borghese, arrayed selectively among the Berninis and Caravaggios, the marble and mosaics, of the 17th-century palace. As soon as it involves equating fashion along with art, the potential for being accused of hubris doesn’t get hold of much greater. (Even if the tip originated along with the museum’s director, Anna Coliva, and not the designer.)
“We were a little nervous, to be honest,” the artist Kris Ruhs, a member of the extended Alaïa family that had helped install the show, said at the opening. He gestured about the rooms, which were crowded along with visitors — most paying homage by wearing their own Alaïas — and in the direction of Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne.” “There’s a great deal of competition,” he said.
Yet the result “was totally harmonious,” as Alber Elbaz of Lanvin said prior to posing along with Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino (and Mr. Alaïa).
Recently, it has actually become something of a trend to take fashion from the costume ghetto and plunk it, devoid of apology, in the heart of a museum, the much better to link applied arts along with great arts and to demonstrate exactly how visual inspiration of every kind has actually its expression in clothes. The latest example is the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute prove to “China: Through the Looking Glass,” which spreads throughout three floors, including the Chinese galleries. Inserting dresses and the enjoy in to the artistic establishment is not a basic proposition, however; as Holland Cotter wrote in a Brand-new York Times review of the show, “The difference between the 2 disciplines is, too often, earned glaring.”
Not this time, however.
According to the curator Mark Wilson, that worked along with Ms. Coliva on the exhibition (and that curated two previous exhibits of Mr. Alaïa’s work, at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands in 1997 and 2011), it took your man only three hours to decide which clothes ought to go where.
So, for example, a white knit minidress, the skirt pleated à la gladiator, echoes the curves of a marble bust; a sinuous knit gown along with a spine of sorts operating down the focus reflects the proportions and draped hemlines of a nearby goddess on a plinth; and a sleeveless velvet sheath, laced down the focus along with a priestlike collar, almost fades in to the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio’s “Madonna, Kid and Serpent.”
What is striking is the method the clothes sneak up on you, processed in the grand scheme of the panorama not as foreign objects yet very objects that have actually made inclusion on their own merits. (It’s worth noting that Mr. Alaïa remade a few of his older dresses, adjusting and elongating their silhouettes to much better serve the space.) And, devoid of the identification plaques, there would certainly be no method to date the garments; a dress earned in the 1990s looks of a piece along with a dress earned in 2015.
Such consistent aesthetic handwriting is rare in fashion, which places a premium on the ability to reflect Just what designers enjoy to call the zeitgeist (and hence make the ever-changing fads on which the industry is built). Mr. Alaïa couldn’t care much less concerning the zeitgeist. He’s interested in the opportunities of cloth and exactly how it can easily be manipulated to idealize the body, and he has actually spent his job honing that idea. That is probably why its expressions job so well amid statuary dedicated in portion to the acme of the human form.
“It was perfect,” said Camille Miceli, the designer of Louis Vuitton’s fashion accessories, as she left the prove to for the celebratory dinner in the gardens that followed the opening. Then, on the marble staircase outside the gallery, she started to twirl, her skirt flying out about her.
“Azzedine earned it,” she said. “It was my wedding dress, yet I don’t understand exactly how to tie the belt correctly.”
She looked spine through the glass doors at the gowns beyond and fiddled along with her waist. “Only he can easily get hold of it right,” she said.