Chloé-Bourdin a winning team

“Nerveuse”, dress in silk organdi Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld, Spring Summer 1980

There was a discreet article advertising the Bourdin exhibition at the couture house of Chloé’s new headquarters on the discreet rue de la Baume in the eigth arrondissement. One had to reserve a time during the day and I did. And good for me because now, it has become difficult to get a slot before September 6 th when the house becomes a fashion show room again.

“Colombe”, Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld, dress in embroidered jersey and crêpe de Chine, spring summer 1976

The impeccable 1900 building has just been entirely refurbished and looks like a powder room, in light pinks and whites. On the first floor, a permament little museum will show highlights of the Chloé clothes since Gaby Aghion, an Egyptian born formidable lady founded the house in 1952. The first fashion show was at Café de Flore in 1956 ! and Guy Bourdin’s photographed it in French Vogue. The scenography of the show is done by the talented Judith Clarke and shows large prints and many magazine publications of the genius photographer as well as models from Karl Lagerfeld’s collections.

Guy Bourdin, Fall Winter 1979,  Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld collection, long dress in silk taffetas “Oskar Schlemmer” style

I was at French Vogue in the eighties and had a close friend at Chloé’s at the time who invited me to the press sales. The luxury of wearing Lagerfeld’s dresses seemed normal then!

Whipcord redingote embroidered in silk threads, glass beads and strass, Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld, fall winter 1979

So it was a fascinating experience to live again the Bourdin years when Barbara Baumel worked with him every minute of the day. The sexy Jourdan shoes campaigns are present here as well as his first publications in French Vogue in Black and White when he was only 27… His irreverence, (two women in grey and red fighting in front of the Prison de La Santé wall), his sexy shots with sausages, are all there.

A double page in French Vogue, May 1956, Spring Summer Chloé collection

But what the charming guide pointed out to us, was the linearity and vertical lines of his photographs from the very first one in the Paris subway at La Chapelle and Barbès Rochechouart, before they became trendy… What makes Bourdin’s photographs so interesting is the contrast. between the luxury of these hand made dresses published in Vogue and the background of the streets of Paris. He was a genius!

The slick exhibition space will become a show room again during fashion shows

There will be exhibitions at Chloé between fashion shows and the superb salons of the second floor will become wonderful show rooms again.

“Cisors”, dress in crêpe and satin embroidered with glass beads, (detail) Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld, Spring summer 1984

I cannot recommend enough this visit guided by a lovely art history student,  who is calm and elegant, a nice contrast to the Dior show at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, an exceptional extravaganza!   I will tell you about it next week… And if you can’t get a reservation try to just show up at 42 rue de la Baume, they might let you in in place of a no show but only if you have an I.D. (Feminities by Guy Bourdin, until September 6 and from October 18- November 18)

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