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EuropeanaFashion Explore fashion - historical clothing and accessories, contemporary designs, catwalk photographs, drawings, sketches, plates, catalogues and videos - from museums and archives across Europe.
Europeana Fashion brings together the digitised collections of more than 30 European public and private institutions.
In search of lost times: Callot Soeurs Quoted as one of the greatest couture house by Marcel Proust in his novel “À la Recherche du Temps perdu”, Callot Soeurs, was a Parisian fashion house ran by three innovative sisters. While wandering on avenue Matignon in Paris one can notice - or inadvertedly step on - a mosaic representing a woman in a light-blue dress beside the words ‘Callot Soeurs’. There to commemorate the address of one of their shops, the mosaic keeps alive the memory of one of the most influential and successful fashion houses of the 20th century, named Callot Soeurs. Evening dress, designed by Callot Soeurs, 1907-10. Courtesy Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, all rights reserved. The fashion house was founded in 1895 by four sisters. They descended from a family of aert and textile dealers and were thus accustomed to precious fabrics, lingerie and laces their family shops were renowned for. Lace, indeed, was one of the fabrics that most characterised the sisters’ work, Marcel Proust himself noted in his novel that Caillot Soeurs used “a little too much” of it. Their couture gowns were realized with hand-made lace, usually reconstituted eighteenth century lace. However, they also introduced more innovative fabrics such as gold and silver lamé and an elastic gabardine for their sport couture. Long dress, designed by Callot Soeurs, 1927. Courtesy Les Arts Décoratifs, all rights reserved. They were also among the first to abandon the corset for less constrictive silhouettes. Marie Gerber, the elder sister, had a design talent besides having trained herself as a première in the atelier of Raudnitz & Cie. Inspired by the Orientalism and avant-garde arts, she eventually designed also Cubist dresses, made of laces and embroideries resembling collages. She used to drape fabrics on models and let her toile-makers to execute the design. One of these toile-makers was, from 1901 to 1906, Madeleine Vionnet. Later, the great couturiere would recognise Callot Soeurs as those who inspired her in her work. She declaired 'without the example of the Callot Soeurs, I would have continued to make Fords. It is because of them that I have been able to make Rolls Royces'. Evening dress, designed by Callot Soeurs, ca. 1908. Courtesy Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, CC BY NC SA. After the death of Marie Berger, the couture house was run by her sons Pierre and Jacques, who continued to sell to the maison's loyal clientele. However, the economic crash of the 1929 had a great impact on the business, which was then closed in 1937. 29 Jan 21:58 blog
Runway Archive: Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture Retrospective, 2002 Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture Fashion Show, January 2002. Photo Etienne Tordoir, Courtesy Catwalkpictures, All Rights Reserved The image documents one of the looks that composed the retrospective haute couture runway designer Yves Saint Laurent organised at the Centre Pompidou in January 2002. Here, model Claudia Schiffer wears the laced-up saharienne, a model YSL designed in 1968. She is re-enacting the infamous image in which model Verushka poses wearing the same outfit more than 30 years before. The designer decided to send down the runway some of the most iconic pieces he created during his long career: the Mondrian dress from 1966; the big green fur and the so-called 'dress with naked back’ from the famous liberation collection from 1971. It was a sensational show, which Vogue’s Stephen Tods defined it as 'a career summation without comparison—a tour through 40 years of fashion that distilled the essence of a legend.’ Check out all the other looks of the show on Europeana Fashion. 26 Jan 01:05 blog
The (feminine) body of fashion: Azzedine Alaia 'I work for women. I only think for them. If I didn't like women, I wouldn't do this job.' Fashion is a very bodily matter. The body is the first object, some designer see it as an obstacle, some others are so in love with it that their philosophy is shaped by the curves, movements and particularities of the living female body. Azzedine Alaia is one of them. His relationship with women had always been very close: he declared he could not create without a model in front of him, and considered women to be the true creator of fashion, while he was ‘only making clothes’. Bolero by Azzedine Alaia, 1998. Courtesy MUDE - Museu do Design e da Moda, All Rights Reserved Alaia was born in Tunisia. From a very young age he showed an interest in fashion, and in this was supported by his sister Hafida and a French friend of his mother, who used to bring him copies of Vogue. The study of sculpture in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tunis led him to a very deep understanding of the human form, something he directly applied in his part-time job as dressmaker, which allowed him also to pay school fees. Dress by Azzedine Alaia, 1998. Courtesy MUDE - Museu do Design e da Moda, All Rights Reserved In 1957 Alaia moved to Paris, where he briefly worked for Christian Dior and then moved to Guy Laroche, then Thierry Mugler. At the end of the 1970s he opened his atelier, supported by high-profile clients, from Greta Garbo to Marie-Hélène de Rothschild. From then, his name got recognition, and his creations started being admired - and sold - worldwide. It is not fair to define Azzedine Alaia as a fashion designer. His material approach to creating clothes directly focussing on the body and the quasi-artisanal attitude he put even when developing his ready-to-wear lines clearly identify him more as a couturier: someone who makes fashion with his hands, rather than inventing something someone else would then give form to. 23 Jan 07:59 blog
Europeana Fashion Focus: 'The Kiss', sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith Eyewear, 1958. 'The Kiss', sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith Eyewear, 1958. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, CC BY These sunglasses are called 'The Kiss.’ The frame is made of two undulating crosses of acetate that go around the lenses, made of plastic veneer on acetate. They were manufactured by the English company Oliver Goldsmith Eyewear in Great Britain in 1958. The eyewear design company Oliver Goldsmith Eyewear was established in London in 1926 by Phillip Oliver Goldsmith. Especially during the 1950s, the brand became known worldwide for its unexpected and flamboyant designs. It developed collaborations with important fashion houses such as Dior and Chanel. The company’s designs were also loved by celebrities. Audrey Hepburn used sunglasses manufactured by Oliver Goldsmith Eyewear both off and on set: in fact, the famous sunglasses she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s were a Oliver Goldsmith design. 21 Jan 20:11 blog
In Fashion, More is More: Patrick Kelly 'Patrick landed like a bomb in my shop in 1985. He was so gay and so full of energy, and so were his clothes.' With these words, the buyer at Victoria boutiques in Paris described Patrick Kelly and his fashion, as if the man and his practice were one the natural extension of the other. Patrick Kelly Fashion Show, March 1989. Photo Courtesy Paul Van Riel, All Rights Reserved Patrick Kelly was obsessed with fashion. He learned to sew at a very young age, worked in thrift shops when he was young and eventually managed to establish his own label and move to France, to pursue a career that brought him to conquer the Parisian fashion scene of the 19080s. It is in Paris that Kelly became the designer of records. In fact, he was the first American designer to be admitted to the prestigious Chambre syndicale du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode: something that consecrated him to the statue of ‘createur’. He is probably the most well-known ad remembered African-american designer who actively included his own roots and background into his practice, merging these references with an extraordinarily contemporary aesthetic sensibility. Patrick Kelly Fashion Show, March 1989. Photo Courtesy Paul Van Riel, All Rights Reserved The references he used to create his clothes were recognisably linked to his sensibility and background: these included elements of Black culture - he was a collector of black memorabilia - as well as to pop art and culture. His style was flamboyant, playful and daringly excessive. This was true also for the way he orchestrated the presentations of his collections, which had to be the very first celebration of his creative thought. 'I design for fat women, skinny women, all kinds of women. My message is, you’re beautiful just the way you are' he declared. To prove this, in 1987 he sent on his runway a model who was eight months pregnant. Patrick Kelly Fashion Show, March 1989. Photo Courtesy Paul Van Riel, All Rights Reserved Kelly died of AIDS in 1990. The words pronounced by his friend and feminist activist Gloria Steinem at his memorial summed up his creative mind as well as his social commitment. She stated: 'Instead of dividing us with gold and jewels, he unified us with buttons and bows.” 17 Jan 22:27 blog
Runway Archive: Alexander McQueen A/W 2004 Standing on the centre of the stage ready to be teleported back to her planet, the model in the picture is wearing the look closing the Alexander McQueen’s a/w 2004 fashion show. Alexander McQueen a/w 2004 fashion show, photo by Etienne Tordoir. Courtesy Catwalkpictures, all rights reserved. The gown is made of layers over layers of silk organza. Its characteristic line consists of wide shoulders and thin and high waist over a voluminous heavy skirt ending with a long train. While moving towards the centre of the dark stage, the only light is coming from the model’s floral neckpiece, which is gleaming intermittently, pacing the show towards its finale. In the month preceding the show, Alexander McQueen announced his decision of not taking over the role of creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, wanting instead to focus on his own brand. The show’s breath-taking conclusion was meant by the designer to bring back all the attention on clothes and design, as this collection, entitled ‘Pantheon as Lecum’, was for Alexander McQueen an attempt to turn away from the theatricality of his previous presentations. Set in a futuristic runway, illuminated to resemble the landing pad of an alien spacecraft, the show was opened by flesh/nude coloured looks that gave no hint of such a grandiose finale if not for their extra-terrestrial aura. 11 Jan 22:43 blog