1997 at Palais Galliera, with two funerals and Castelbajac dressing the Pope

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Alexander McQueen’s first collection for Givenchy Couture at 27, Spring Summer 1997,

I had no idea that 1997 was such an important date in recent fashion, until I visited “Fashion Big Bang” at Palais Galliera and discovered that it is the year when Alexander McQueen presented his first show at Givenchy and John Galliano at Christian Dior. It also marks the unique moment of Jean Charles de Castelbajac designing all the clothes for Pope Jean Paul II’s Journées mondiales de la Jeunesse in Paris and Stella McCartney‘s first collection at 25. It is the year Gianni Versace died on July 15 in Miami and Princess Diana on August 31 in Paris. The exhibition is very varied with extravagant Yohji Yamamoto gowns and the G-String by Tom Ford for Gucci. The title Big Bang comes from a Paris Vogue cover and marks the preview of the XXI st century fashion.

Tom Ford for Gucci, The G-String, October 3, 1996, loan from Alexandre Fury, London

It is also the year that the concept store Colette (style design art food) opened at 213 rue St Honoré. Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Ann Demeulemester and Raf Simons open the exhibition  with their weird silhouettes, questioning the aesthetics of fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier presents his first Couture show as well as Thierry Mugler with an insect collection. Fendi designs the  “baguette” bag which is considered today as the first it-bag of the history of fashion. It will become famous through “Sex and the City” which first episode is shot in New York in 1997.

Jos Brands paints teh model’s back for Raf Simons, “Black Palms” Spring Summer 1998 with a projection on the wall  by Franky Claes, 1997

It is also the 10 th anniversary of Christian Lacroix‘s house (founded 1987) and his baroque style dresses contrast sharply with all the other couturiers’. One of the most moving rooms is the one with videos of Gianni Versace’s funeral in Miami with Princess Diana attending and then her own funeral seven weeks later.

Extract from the film showing Pope John Paul II wearing Castelbajac’s colorful tunic with Cardinal Lustiger

Alexander Mc Queen dressed the Icelandic singer Björk for the cover of her aluminum “Homogenic”, Merce Cunningham asked Rei Kawakubo to design distorted costumes for his “Scenario” ballet.

This show tends to explain how fashion has become an arts in itself around the world with more and more museums and university courses being devoted to it. Many videos of the fashion shows of the time are aired and Gianni Versace’s of course is particularly moving since it is his last.

Jean Paul Gaultier, first Couture collection January 19, 1997

Until July 16 at Palais Galliera.

When you exit the show, turn right and walk two minutes to the A-galerie, which is showing, at 4 rue Léonce Reynaud, the late Patrick Demarchelier‘s fashion photographs. He was a leading Vogue and Elle photographer and shot all the famous models of the 80’s. He died last year in St Barthélémy.

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