Paris the birth place of Haute Couture has given the fashion industry an endless amount of designers and fashion staples. During the 50’s and 60’s London was seen as the epicenter of all fashion innovation. However Paris Refashioned showcases how Paris was also a leader in trend making during this era. Like London the young people of Paris were infusing their music, art and outlook on life into fashion. Many of these innovations and new styles changed the course of fashion and are still worn today.
In the late 1950’s Parisian couturiers like Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent started to receive recognition for the radical and progressive designs they made under respected fashion houses. Yves Saint Laurent introduced the trapeze dress or the “A Line dress” under the House of Dior. A style that became so successful it cemented his place in the fashion industry. Not only was the dress a success for the House of Dior, it influenced the relaxed and younger trends that came after.
During the 1960’s Cristobal Balenciaga’s understudy André Courre’ges made drastic changes to what Couture could look like. He also changed the manner in which fashion shows were conducted. His 1964 ” Space Age” collection introduced futuristic day-wear in place of the traditional eveningwear couture collection. During the fashion show models quickly strut down the runway to upbeat music. A surprise for the audience who were used to a relaxed runway show where models strolled and stopped in intervals for viewing.
The rise of ready-to-wear in the 50’s and 60’s by Parisian designers created an economic influx in the fashion industry. Their modern designs also attracted a larger clientele who wanted more options than what couture designers were providing. These designers became known as “stylistes” and introduced “ready-to wear” to French fashion and society. These designers also changed how ready-to-wear fashion was perceived. Off the rack fashion or “confections” were originally known for being poor in quality and design. The quality in which designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Sonia Rykiel produced their pret-a-porter lines rooted ready-to-wear into a respected category in Parisian fashion.
While some Couturiers embraced pret-a-porter others found if difficult to include a ready- to -wear line into their collections. Designers like Balenciaga, Madame Gres and Chanel did not switch to ready-to-wear but infused the new trends into their collections by hiring younger designers. While some couturier survived the shift in Parisian fashion some designers like Balenciaga were forced to shut their doors and reopen later on. The survival of Couture depended on the flexibility of the Couturiers.
Paris Refashioned 1957-1968 will be open until April 15, 2017 at the Museum at FIT. Let me know if you visit this exhibition and what your thoughts are.