Mannequin: Corps de la Mode

Mannequin: Corps de la Mode, a fashion exhibition organized by Musée Galliera, is currently on show and runs until May 19 2013 at Les Docks (Cité de la Mode et du Design), 34, quai d’Austerlitz, Paris 13e.

Fred’s fashion house model, 1897

Jacques Heim, Fall/Winter 1951, by Henry Clarke

Raphael, S/S 1951, Interfoto Venice

Kate Moss, photographed by Corinne Day, 1990

Kristen McMenamy, photographed by Juergen Teller, 1996

As the body is the genuine core of fashion, the models (whether we’re talking about tailor’s dummies or real women) play a central role in the evolution of fashion. In fact, it’s impossible to understand the evolution of fashion through the decades without considering the bodies that supported, materialized and inspired the most creative designs. The Parisian exhibition focuses exactly on this theme, that’s why I consider it an outstanding fashion statement. The history of fashion records a significant evolution from the tailor dummies designed for various clients, to in-house models (who also evolved from anonymous girls to designer’s muses), to the cover girls and contemporary superstars. Mannequin: Corps de la Mode attempts to catch the essential visual & conceptual shifts in fashion imagery: the elegant figure of the 50s, the powerful, sporty look in the 80s, the heroin chic icons of the 90s, nowadays photoshoped look and the appetite for surgical enhancement.

The exhibition curator – Sylvie Lécallier, an expert on fashion photography at the Galliera Museum in Paris, puts together relevant images, from anonymous photographers to the artists who challenged the role of fashion photography: Horst P. Horst, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Nick Knight, Corinne Day, Juergen Teller etc. The display of  three-dimensional mannequins or mannequin variations (such as Margiela’s  dummy inspired couture-pieces) is mixed with the images of living models (Twiggy, Kate Moss, Kristen McMenamy, etc.). Finally, the fashioned body represents a subtle dialogue between the organic and inorganic, between what’s natural given and culturally constructed.

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