Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fashion Forward: Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Fashion. I love it. Some might say I'm a slave to it. While I like to wear what's "in," I'm also a sucker for something classic; or vintage. So I don't think I'm exactly a slave to fashion. Others might call me a label whore. I can accept this title. There are brands that I like (Louis Vuitton, YSL, Hermès) and brands that I find look good on me (Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood). If I can afford to buy the label, I'm going to buy the label. I've even been referred to as a fashion victim. Well, I have to say that while I have been known to buy the brand because of the label (LV, Hermès), I'm not one that's willing to shell out the money to buy the label just because it's the label, especially if it doesn't look good on me (or the bag doesn't fit my needs). The point is, everyone buys clothes. We're all drawn to certain things. I enjoy cultivating my style in the garden of designer labels when I can. I haven't always been able to do that. And I don't consider my desire to wear labels or my ability to afford them (Gucci platforms, YSL mini bag) a negative attribute. I work. I save. I purchase. Sometimes I have buyers remorse even if I've finally purchased the very item I've been saving for. Money is tangible. Joy from the purchase is not. Ultimately, I find the joy and have no regrets for spending the money.

Fashion trends are dictated by the designers (or Anna Wintour). We're all aware at some point in a season of that one item on everyone's Must List. Maybe it's a bag. Maybe it's a shoe. Maybe it a certain leg width for denim. For spring, I read that the bomber jacket was a must have. After reading that bit of information, wouldn't you know I saw bomber jackets everywhere. It made me wonder what underground syndicate tells every fashion house We want bomber jackets to be the It thing for spring so make one. 

Fashion changes. Sometimes gradually; sometimes from season to season. (Christian Dior used to change his silhouette with every season effectively outdating what was in a woman's closet every few months.) It can be based on the shifting mood of the times. Or can shift the mood of the times by creating something altogether new. 

Style is what you do with that fashion. I prefer to buy things that are on trend with a bent toward the classic. That's my style. I don't want my clothes to be dated by the next season. Something that is in the center of the fashion zeitgeist this season might need only the right accessory to keep the look fresh year after year. 

I do like to find out what has been deemed the hot color of the season. Again, does that syndicate tell everyone This fall we wants lots of cordovan but for spring we want emerald? I incorporate the color either in nail polish or a piece of jewelry or a shirt that has that color in it. Something that allows me to participate without going overboard. And let's be honest, a shirt with cordovan in the print is still going to work for autumn no matter the autumn of what year. Deep red is an autumn/winter color. It's a classic. Emerald will always work for spring/summer. Be smart about what you buy. Have fun, but be smart.

This fashion lesson was brought to you in honor of my visit to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs today. The museum is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a panorama of fashion spanning three centuries. I was in heaven. It's a shame you can't see my halo and wings. I didn't take a selfie. Sorry. 

According to their website there are "300 items of men's, women's and children's fashion from the 18th century to today." I saw them all. Corsets, panniers, breeches, waistcoats, vests, bustles, trains. From Charles-Frederick Worth (consisered by many as the first couturier) to Jacques Doucet, Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin and Madeleine Vionnet. And what French fashion exhibit would be complete without Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent? 

I was mildly intrigued by the gowns and menswear of the early 18th century. They're beautiful. There's no denying it. Especially when viewing the details. It's easy to imagine Marie Antoinette and the ladies and gentlemen of the period wearing those clothes. We've seen the images a hundred and two times. We can't imagine how long it took to dress with all those layers. Forget about doing it alone. And forget about a quickie in the antechamber. Beautiful to admire, but yawn. 

Then there was the room filled with dresses I would expect to see in Scarlett O'Hara's closet...although not in her window. 

The changing of the silhouette becomes extremely interesting when you can view it all at once. The corseting and bustles to no bustles to finally no corset--women had to, and still do, go through much more than men when it comes to fashion. Although women have so many more choices than men when it comes to decorating their bodies with the beauty of clothes.

It was upon entering the room showcasing designs from around 1903 and forward that I came alive. These were dresses designed by names I recognized.

1. A selection. This is where my halo started forming

2. Elsa Schiaparelli (she loved shocking pink). To your right is a gown by American designer Mainbocher

3. An Elsa Schiaparelli pink jacket, again in shocking pink. To the right, a blue haute couture gown by her rival, Coco Chanel

4. The room where I got my wings 

5. The "New Look" by Christian Dior

6. Yet another gorgeous Dior

7. This Pierre Balmain is reminiscent of a few gowns I saw in photos from this year's Met Gala--Manus x Machina

8. Hubert de Givenchy coat

9. Again with Dior. The gold outfit to the left belongs to Chanel

10. Cristóbal Balenciaga

11. Both of these pieces are from the mind of Paco Rabanne

12. Both purple and yellow selections are Yves Saint Laurent

13. A Christian Lacroix that might have felt at home in one of the previous rooms

14. That ensemble on the right is the creation of Vivienne Westwood

15. A Raf Simmons dress for the House of Dior

16. The back view of the Dior on the left. The gown on the right is Riccardo Tisci for the House of Givenchy

Regardless of where you spend your money on your clothes, find your style. Figure out what you like, what makes you happy. Pick up a Vogue magazine once in a while and check things out. See what's in your closet already that looks like something you saw in its pages. Have a good time. Fashion should be fun.

Fashion is fantasy. Style is how you express the fantasy. Find your fantasy. Be yourself...confidently. I dare you!

Mon voyage se poursuit. Au Revoir