Explore fashion – historical clothing and accessories, contemporary designs, catwalk photographs, drawings, sketches, plates, catalogues and videos – from more than 30 European public and private institutions.
Daring Geniuses: Pierre Cardin
Overview of the Fall/Winter 1965/1966 collection of Pierre Cardin. Courtesy Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, CC BY NC SA
What made fashion become as we understand it today is a series of completely revolutionary events, carried forward by emerging but far-sighted personalities.
One of the most representative of these moments is the launch in 1959 of Pierre Cardin’s first prêt-à-porter collection, which cost him the expulsion from the Chambre Syndacale de l’Haute Couture Parisienne.
Pietro Cardin was born in 1922 in Sant’Andrea di Barbarana, a hamlet of San Biagio di Callalta, near Treviso and Venice, in the north of Italy.
He is considered both an Italian and French national fashion designer, as parents were forced to move to France in 1924 due to the poverty brought by the First World War. In France Cardin began his apprenticeship with a tailor in Saint-Étienne and after a brief experience, he became a tailor in Vichy; in 1945 he arrived in Paris working first for Jeanne Paquin and then for Elsa Schiaparelli. He was the first tailor of the Christian Dior maison during its opening in 1947 (after being rejected by Balenciaga) and was a participant in the success of the master who defined the New Look.
In 1950 Cardin founded his own fashion house, then venturing into high fashion in 1953. What has always characterised him was his experimental taste for avant-garde, the space age and unusual fabrics such as vinyl (at the time considered sacrilegious), or a taste that led him to prefer geometric shapes that very often did not appear follow the lines of the body and its natural movements.
After progressing in unisex fashion, in 1959 he opened a high fashion shop in Japan and in that year he launched a collection for the first time in the history of fashion for the Printemps department store in Paris. Since the term – and the concept as a whole – of prêt-à-porter did not yet exist, Cardin was expelled from the Chambre Syndacale for having transgressed the imposed norms.
Pierre Cardin, however, was immediately reintegrated, probably thanks to the reactions of his colleagues, who felt themselves the drive towards change, but he decided to resign in 1966; since then he showed his collections first at the “Ambassadors’ Theater” near the American Embassy, later at his “Escare Cardin” headquarters opened in 1971 in Paris, where artistic talents, as performed and musicians, are still promoted today.
Cardin was a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Prêt-à-Porter and of the Maison du Haute Couture from 1953 to 1993; in 1994 he decided to show his creations only to a select group of selected clients and journalists. The first license contract in clothing between a fashion designer and a French company was signed, therefore, by Pierre Cardin, to promote a women’s ready-to-wear collection. This was to the advantage of the fashion designer, who in doing so could secure the production capacity, so much so that from the seventies onwards, especially in Italy, the licensing phenomenon spread more and more, until the 90s, when it began to safeguard the name of the fashion house.
Over the years, Cardin stipulated more than 900 licenses and its brand arrived in over 140 countries. But his design philosophy was far from the productive and commercial mechanisms, as he always stated that he did not want to be a label, but a brand; this meant turning to those who shared his taste: so it was necessary to address the crowd.
At the end of the 1950s, he felt that fashion was approaching a new kind of people and had to be able to address them; fashion could now and must have been both a creative process and a business, and a man, Pierre Cardin, could play an excellent businessman and an excellent artist at the same time.
It was therefore this kind of events that brought to light what is still the struggle between haute couture and prêt-à-porter, a conflict that is at the base of what is now fashion for us.
The revolution brought by Cardin and followed by many other fashion designers is not just about economic strategies, but uses them to convey a message, a new – personal and commune – vision.
28 Aug 07:20
Introducing the new Tumblr Curations: Fashion at the Races I & II
An article in the Times published in 1922 deemed Ascot to be “the best place in England to see beautiful women in beautiful clothes.” Since the very beginnings of modern horse racing, the tracks were used as a ‘catwalk-avant-la-lettre’ by ladies and fashion designers alike. Horse races were a golden opportunity for high society women to spot and to don fashionable outfits, while couturiers dispatched models to the tracks dressed in their latest creations. Especially in France - host to such legendary races as those in Auteuil, Longchamp and Chantilly - ladies and models ‘promenading’ in high-end fashion thoroughly influenced the development of the fashion industry and the growing reputation of Paris as the fashion capital of the world. But the 'trend' of races was soon taken up with enthusiasm all around Europe, making these sport events catalyst of new social behaviours characteristic of the modern age. Today, still, ‘Race day’ is as much about the clothes as it is about the sport, and dressing up in the finest garments and luxurious accessories is a self-evident requirement if you’re aiming at blending in with the in-crowd. Yet in this double guest-curated feature for our friends at the recently renamed ‘European Fashion Heritage Association’, managing also the sister-thematic collection ‘Europeana Fashion’ on Europeana.eu, we shift the focus to the early decades of the 20thcentury, when modern horse racing was reaching its heyday.
Fashionable crowd at a racecourse in Copenhagen (Denmark), circa 1900. Léon & Lévy.
Roger-Viollet / Parisienne de Photographie
The curations will be presented on EFHA Website and Tumblr and will run for two months, and then they will be included as co-curated galleries on the Europeana Fashion thematic collection. Zooming in on French fashion of the 1900s and 1910s first, then jumping ahead to the 1920s and 1930s in the UK, we follow major trends and changes on the racecourse-runways and discover through early photographic images that paddocks and stables, muddy tracks and groomed greens were among the first ever outdoor backdrops shown in fashion photography.
The curation will start tomorrow - stay tuned and visit the EFHA Tumblr.
About the Guest Curator:
Sofie Taes has been working as an online curator of early photographic collections for the Europeana Photography Thematic Collection for several years. She is affiliated both with Leuven university (KU Leuven, Belgium) and PHOTOCONSORTIUM: an expert hub on historical photography, uniting the experience and knowledge of photography professionals from all over Europe.
01 Aug 08:54
Announcing the EFHA 5th International Conference 'Europe and Fashion: Questioning Identities and Cultures'
In the prestigious set of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, on the 8-9 November 2018, EFHA, in collaboration with The New School – Parsons Paris, IUAV University of Venice and the London College of Fashion – University of the Arts London, is organising its fifth international conference titled Europe and Fashion: Questioning Identities and Cultures.
An impressive lineup of speakers, with keynotes as Valerie Steele, Giorgio Riello, Miren Arzalluz and Javier Gimeno Martinez, will explore and discuss the role of geography, borders, territories and identities for the definition and demarcation of varied artefacts and practices, analysing the link between fashion and European identity.
The main aim of the conference is to reconsider assumptions about the place of fashion in the definition of European culture and offer new perspectives on the role of fashion in relation to critical issues, as individual and collective identities, European policy, colonialism and post-colonialism, cultural exchange and transmission, cultural displacement and appropriation, the fashion capitals and nations, center and periphery.
We think that fashion and fashion heritage have the possibility to add something relevant and unique to the conversation and we believe this conference is a timely intervention on central topics concerning not only fashion heritage, but the realm of culture more broadly.
The papers included in the conference will present cutting-edge researches by world-leading personalities from many fields – academia, museum research and practice and also professionals – defying borders across disciplines and institutions.
Learn more about the programme and book your ticket at https://europeandfashion.eventbrite.co.uk/.
Hurry-up, tickets are limited!
View of the 2016 exhibition 'Down with the Boundaries! Live the Design and Arts' at MUDE Museu do Design e da Moda, photo by Alberto Mayer, all rights reserved
01 Aug 05:15
EFHA News: A new name, a new website, the same mission!
It’s official! From today the Europeana Fashion International Association changes its name in European Fashion Heritage Association. A new name, a new identity, but the same mission: “make it easier for fashion GLAMs and brands to get better value from their cultural heritage assets by opening them up and connecting with new audiences”. We still believe that sharing the vast wealth of fashion heritage assets stored in public and private museums and archives across Europe empowers these institutions, improves their visibility and prestige and connect them with new audiences; at the same time, it allows the full exploitation of our shared fashion heritage for work, for study and for fun. These are the main reasons that will continue to drive our activities and define our scope. The Association today launches also its new website: fashionheritage.eu. Our website wants to be a space where a thriving network of fashion heritage professionals, scholars, creatives and enthusiasts can meet, share experiences, learn from each other and have a specialised access to the largest and richest digital repository of fashion heritage online, daily curated by our editorial team. The curatorial work developed on our website and elsewhere - as the entries on our blog or what we share on our social media platforms - crosses our vast archive, selecting and showcasing together items from different institutions across Europe, and thus creating new narratives and connections that put in context and exploit the rich content of our network. All the ways in which we manage the archive aim at providing background information and guidance to both professionals but also to fashionistas or to people simply interested in discovering more about the topic; our goal has always been - and still is, indeed - to help shaping personal researches of our users and unveiling some of the most interesting gems contained in our repository, often hidden in the width of the archive itself. In all our activities, we will be supported by our Scientific Committee, which will outline the scientific program of the international events that we organises yearly, support us in the definition of project proposals in the framework of the different EC programmes, and advises also about the editorial and curatorial lines. The Association will also continue to operate the Europeana Fashion thematic aggregator, keeping on publishing and enriching high quality digital fashion content on the Europeana Collections portal, putting it in the broader framework of the European cultural heritage, engaging there a larger audience of culture lovers. But the news are not ending here. Soon, we’re going to announce our forthcoming international conference on “Europe and Fashion: Questioning Identities and Cultures” with an impressive lineup of speakers. To stay tuned and discover more about our activities, subscribe to our newsletter.
31 Jul 06:25
Fashion for Art: Jacques Doucet
The link between the fashion world and that of the arts was quite strong at the beginning of the twentieth century, especially thanks to couturiers who also were avid art collectors central in the cultural life of Paris. Jacques Doucet is surely one of the most famous designers who not only collected art, but also supported artists and architects in their activity, asking them to shape the spaces in which he lived and worked.
Robe à transformation embroidered with a motif of clouds and bees, 1900-1905 ca. Courtesy les Arts Decoratifs, all rights reserved.
Doucet was born in Paris in 1853. His family owned a very profitable lingerie and linens business, Doucet Lingerie. Raised in a refined and rich environment, from a very young age Doucet begun collecting eighteenth-century furniture, paintings and sculptures. In 1871, he opened his fashion house, and in his creations can be seen a heavy influence from the style of the objects he collected. His penchant for this opulent era made him the go-to designers for the divas of the time, as Cécile Sorel, Rejane and Sarah Bernhardt, for whom he created outfits that were both refined and recognisable, enriched with embroideries, frills, rouches and volants.
Black velvet jaquette, 1898-1900 ca. Courtesy les Arts Decoratifs, all rights reserved.
His style was too grand for the modern look in vogue in the 1920, so his popularity faded in that period. However, he kept working and in 1927 he asked cubist artists and sculptors to decorate his Studio House in rue Saint-James, Neuilly-sur-Seine. Its name was 'hôtel particulier': it was designed by the architect Paul Ruaud and included works and projects by Laurens, Csaky, Lipchitz and Marcoussis.
Apart from being interested in the eighteenth century, throughout his life he accumulated contemporary works of art, especially Post-Impressionist and Cubist paintings; the most know piece in his collection was surely Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which he bought direct from Picasso's studio. His collection of books included both art publications and manuscripts from contemporary writers: the first was donated to the University of Paris in 1917 and then transferred to the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in 2003; the second formed the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques-Doucet, dedicated to the designer in 1929, year of his death.
24 Jul 08:00