151109: Musée Galliera: Accessoire et objets, témoignages de vies de femmes à Paris 1940 – 1944

Musée Galliera: Accessoire et objets, témoignages de vies de femmes à Paris 1940 – 1944 To make a virtue of necessity Whoever was recently in Paris to view the ready-to-wear collection was offered quite a few examples of what is considered “wearable” and “rational reductionism”: “Difficult” times require sobriety. Apart from the mundane catwalks the Musée Galliera, together with the Musée Jean Moulin, are presenting a unique fashion show. Here you will see how the praised “Parisian elegance” subsisted even during the war years, characterized by shortage and distress. The extensive text material, the sensitively selected case studies and the carefully arranged compilation of the exhibited material avoids the imminent danger of letting the topic be viewed cynically or emotionally. The curators, Fabienne Falluel and Marie-Laure Gutton, are tactful enough to master the balancing act between the abysses of insipidity and admonishing. An edited version of the 1942 weekly newsreels reveals a lot about the “Parisian elegance”. To hide the unpopularity of the occupying forces in France, the chic and extravaganza of the “inventive” Parisians is misused as evidence that the situation was beginning to get back to normal: “fashion demands its rights and proves that women have found a way to cope with the new situation”, an off-voice announces. Irrespective of these allurements, the women adjusted to the difficult conditions as well as possible. New handbags with extra room for a torchlight and a variety of utensils were en vogue in Paris from 1940 to 1944. And Elsa Schiaparell, inspired by a pilot’s uniform, designed a house frock, which offered some warmth in the unheated apartments. The most significant accents came from the accessory sector – possibly the last domain, which offered the scarce resources some room for flexible design. In 1943, the women’s magazine Marie Claire declared both the elegant as well as the inventive lady as equals. “Getting by “– both in sedulous homework as well as in large fashion houses was the motto. In both cases, new materials were utilized: for the first time cork and wood were used as shoe soles, shoes were knitted or crocheted, rough sawdust was integrated in fashionable hairdos or hats were made of paper. Quite a number of details, which were later rediscovered by the fashion Avant-garde, were used for the first time. Using leftovers (leather, fur), misappropriating (furniture cloth) or revamping (hands bags made of old cashmere scarves) was normal during the war years - long before the term recycling came up. It is interesting to observe how the designs became increasingly daring the longer the years of occupation lasted. Extravagant creativity predominated, and for the time being serene elegance was suspended. Even for the well-meaning fashion expert, this exhibition is able to not only remind of all this but at the same time to view the hysterically functioning fashion universe at a greater distance – a comforting thought. By Daniel Kalt Musée Galliera 75015 Paris, Jardin Atlantique – Gare Montparnasse, until 15.11.2009 http://www.paris.fr/portail/Culture/Portal.lut?page_id=6923

Musée Galliera
75015 Paris, Jardin Atlantique – Gare Montparnasse
Öffnungszeiten: Di-So 10-18 h

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