The twelve months from October 1996 to October 1997 were pivotal times for fashion. Two of that star’s girlfriends, Gianni Versace and Diana, Princess of Wales, have died. Arguably the first “it” bag, the Fendi Baguette hits the market. LVMH owner Bernard Arnault has amassed a portfolio of traditional fashion houses over the past decade, including Christian Dior and Givenchy.
In October 1996, he moved designer John Galliano from Givenchy to Dior. 27-year-old Lee Alexander McQueen replaced Givenchy. The following year, LVMH appointed Marc Jacobs to Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors to Celine and Narciso Rodriguez to Loewe. Hedi Slimane has been appointed Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent menswear. Stella McCartney has been appointed her Chloé. Nicolas Ghesquière started designing Balenciaga.
“It changed the fabric of fashion,” says Alexander Samson, curator of the forthcoming exhibition. 1997 fashion big bang At the Galliera Palace in Paris.
We’re talking on Zoom two weeks before the opening and he’s stressed. A particular dress requested by couturier Christian Lacroix to showcase his Fall/Winter 1997 haute couture collection was altered for the celebrity and was meticulously crafted by one of his former heads of Lacroix’s former atelier. emphasized because it had to be rebuilt in
He also stresses that Comme des Garçons’ fearsome Rei Kawakubo had heard of the exhibition and denied the first selections from her Spring/Summer 1997 “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” show. it was done. The “correct” pieces are now shipping from Japan.
This exhibition is unique among fashion exhibitions in that it focuses on 12 months of significant exhibitions from 26 years ago. The structure of the exhibition eschews the practice of many curators in current fashion exhibitions, where works are arranged thematically, instead guiding the audience through time periods on a monthly basis.
It’s an approach that gives an idea of the significance of this particular year and how sometimes major designer appointments, debuts and world-changing events pile up in rapid succession. The scene captures journalists flying back-to-back from New York to London to Milan to Paris for Fashion Week.
The exhibition opens with a striking aesthetic contrast between the treatment of the human form between the avant-garde and the overly sexual. In the former category is Kawakubo’s groundbreaking Spring 1997 womenswear collection, which contorts the body with padded padding underneath stretchy fabrics, colloquially known as “lumps and bumps.” It has spawned comparisons to pregnant bellies, 19th-century rumblings, and cancerous tumors. It’s shown alongside a men’s thong with a double G logo on the coccyx that Tom Ford presented as part of the Gucci show.
Whether we dress or treat our bodies, we talk about sexuality, physicality, and the space between the skin and the fabric. But, of course, they represent diametrically opposed views, appearing just days apart. Other designers represented in over 50 looks include the aforementioned Galliano and McQueen, each with extravagant ball gowns and fierce tailoring, a stunning macaw feather bolero by Jean Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela’s deconstructed ensemble, the Friars of Ghesquière, is All Black’s debut. Balenciaga, and his first one of Fendi’s famous baguettes. There is also Gianni his evening dress for his Versace final haute couture show, which was unveiled on July 6, 1997. He was murdered nine days after him. Strangely, they are decorated with jeweled crosses, like icons of fallen saints.
The show takes its name from a contemporary article in Vogue Paris that defined the January 1997 haute couture season as the “big bang” necessary to place Paris at the center of international fashion. Samson found that press and media attendance at his shows for Couture that season increased by 40% from his. The revival of interest in 100-year-old French hand-made clothes, which had quickly become meaningless after losing customers in the recession of the early 1990s, was reflected in ready-to-wear designs by Yohji Yamamoto and Margiela. rice field. It influenced the clothes of the years that followed.
“It’s a buzzword, but it’s the zeitgeist,” says Samson. Thus, two looks from Galliano’s first Dior couture collection—a curvy Edwardian gown and his 1947 micromini iteration of his Tailleur Bar—placed at the center of the exhibition, very Stand out. “Galliano is the key,” says Samson. “[The couture collection] Probably the show’s key event and year. Because people were waiting for it and responded to it. “
The exhibition asks fundamental questions: Why did all this happen? Why was 1997 such a significant time? Samson is not sure. “I try not to be mystical, but he wanted to talk to a psychic about astrology,” he laughs. “Of course we can [consider] It’s a brand strategy. It is clear that it is his 50th anniversary of Dior. And many imitated this structure. All CEOs had their eye on Arnault’s decision. It can explain why Versace was murdered in 1997 and why Diana died. Nor can it explain the success of the collection. “
Samson jokingly says that 70% of today’s designs can be traced back to two collections from 1997. A show of Kawakubo’s rugged dresses and Margiela couture-inspired jackets based on Stockmann’s mannequins used in the design studio. The idea for the show came to Samson while she was curating a major exhibition for the museum centered on Margiela’s work in 2018, and Kawakubo created Margiela’s own breakthrough just 24 hours after her. I just noticed that you have announced a collection.
“I wanted to do an exhibition only about both of these collections,” Samson said. Then I saw Galliano…events kept arriving.In fact, we couldn’t show you all the looks associated with that year’s pile of fashion events, either in video or in archival documents. Some are expressed.
In today’s fluid fashion world, there is an undeniable connection. “The fact that Pharrell Williams was appointed to Vuitton is a link,” says Samson. In fact, some of the reactions to that appointment recall the late Karl Lagerfeld’s sniping at Stella McCartney, who was appointed as his replacement at Chloé in April 1997. “They did, but in music, not fashion.”
“That’s the reaction I got,” says Samson. “It’s a familiar system now, but at the time it was full of dynamism.”
Are there any other milestone fashion years that could be approached with a similar — ingenious — conceit? 1939 comes to mind. As Gabrielle Chanel unveiled a patriotic red, white and blue collection, and the Nazis advanced beyond European borders, Bavarian some suggested his style as a trend. Or what about his 1987, when Puff his skirts rose before the stock market crashed?
Again, probably no one has the depth and richness of 1997.
The 1997 Fashion Big Bang will take place from March 7th to July 16th at the Palais Galliera in Paris.
See our latest stories first — follow us @financialtimesfashion on Instagram