Exhibition | Appropriate Dress Required

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 30, 2016


Le Magasin des modes, 1787. Dessin : Claude-Louis Desrais ; gravure : A.-B. Duhamel. 23e cahier, pl. II. Maciet MOD/2/35 Paris: Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs.

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Opening at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs:

Appropriate Dress Required: When Clothing Causes a Scandal
Tenue Correcte Exigée: Quand le Vêtement Fait Scandale
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1 December 2016 — 23 April 2017

Curated by Denis Bruna

The history of fashion is studded with a host of iconic inventions: rhinegraves, the robe volante, the robe chemise, the chemise à la grecque, women’s trousers, skirts for men, the female tuxedo, the miniskirt, the ‘baggy’ look, and jeans, to list only a few.

Although emblematic of the ephemerality of fashion, these garments all challenged the dress does of their era and were violently criticised and even banned when they first appeared. Because they were too short or too long, too tightfitting or too ample, too shameless or too covering, too feminine for a man, too masculine for a woman, these garments transgressed the established order. They were condemned for their form, which should neither deform the body nor accentuate its anatomy, the sexual identity of the garment and its wearer, and circumstances that dictated certain dress and forbade another.

With a selection of characteristic garments and fashion accessories, portraits, caricatures, advertisements, and a host of other objects, the exhibition explores this history of vestimentary liberties, and offences—highlighting dress codes and moral values from the 14th century to today, from the royal courts to the street and magazines.



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