paris - alaia

Two exhibitions, a modern couturier and a Belle-Epoque collection of clothes:

In the grand Palais Galliera is a collection of dresses displayed as they were stars in themselves. Spotlights in the darkness highlight chiffon and velvet, fishtails and hoods. Eyelets and beads wink, gleaming, amid the sleek forms made to flatter the female figure. The stitching fine as spiderwebs is worth marvelling at too. It is obvious that Azzedine Alaïa had studied architecture and fine arts before becoming a couturier – his pieces stand alone as fantastical but practical constructions. All together they make for a fantastic retrospective.

Cross the road to see the last few dresses juxtaposed with Matisse in the Musée de l’Art Modern and have a bite to eat at their very reasonable cafe, on the terrace overlooking the river, and then go down to the Marais and back a hundred years to the exhibition in the Musée Carnavalet. The range of dresses that belonged to Alice Alleaume and family span the turn of the century to the Second World War, from corsets to cloche hats. Again the craftsmanship is marvellous, here added to a history of a family of dressmakers, photos and diaries, and clever cartoons illustrating the fashions of the day. A well-preserved peek into the importance of couture over the last century.

paris - alaia 2

Alaïa (28th Sept ’13 – 26th Jan ’14) at Palais Galliera, 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75116 Paris; metro Iena 9

Le Roman d’une Garde Robe (17th Oct ’13 – 16th Mar ’14) at Musée Carnavalet, 23, rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris; metro St Paul 1

Where next? Still peckish? Near the Carnavalet, you can have a mug of coffee and a cinnamon bun at the equally stylish Swedish Institute, 11 rue Payenne, 75003

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