Art Gallery to show iconic Paris fashion

Adelaide fashionistas have an exciting – and rare – chance to visit an amazing exhibition of some of the most famous post-war fashion masterpieces ever created by the world’s top designers at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

“Fashion Icons”,  a major international exhibition of  French fashion  from Paris’s Musee des Arts Decoratifs, raises the thorny question of whether haute couture fashion is art.  The musee  (a popular bus stop on Paris’s famous open-top tourist buses), is closed for renovation and Voila! the exhibition- exclusive to Adelaide –  is here until February.

In a quantum shift in how fashion has edged its way into Art Gallery space, the Art GAllery of SA is   one of three Australian capital city galleries to stage major fashion exhibitions. However, for the sheer scope of the six decades of ground-breaking masterpieces of display, Adelaide  has achieved the coup of the country.

The fabulous exhibition will feature  93 ground-breaking and fantasy French haute couture items from 1947 to today as well as classics such as Coco Chanel’s two-piece trimmed suit, the style made unforgettable by Jacquie Kennedy.   It begins with Christian Dior’s ground-breaking gown, ironically named “Adelaide” and becomes a mind-boggling showcase of “emblematic haute couture garments” created by France’s greatest fashion designers over the past six decades.

Fashion curator of 20th and 21st century Fashion and Textiles, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, Pamela Goblin has curated the exhibition which features a fashion design roll-call such as post-war French designer, Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Sonia Ryykiel and Thierry Mugler.   Christan Dior revolutionised fashion from 1947 with his “New Look’ which in turn inspiring Coco Chanel to return to Paris from her self-imposed exile during the war.  And from those two giants, has flowed a river of fabulously talented fashion designers. More historical documents that mere clothes, they reflect pivoting change in fashion through iconic garments to drool over or snigger at. It includes garments over six decades from glamorous gowns of the 1950s, amazing pieces by Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and Madame Gres and some flights of fashion fancy such as Dolce & Gabbana’s 2007  chrome bustier, worn by Lady Gaga Paparazzi video.

One extraordinary example of haute couture is the 1973 Jean Muir gown and another is Karl Legerfeld’s lavish 1996 Coromandel gown which needed 1200 hours of hand embroidery. There will also be one of Nicole Kidman’s stunning red carpet frocks.  However, each garment brings its own story and moment of glory for its designer, invariably French.

Garments are set in eras from the 1950s to the beginning of the 21st century and exciting film clips give an interesting historical context to the garments displayed.

Pamela Goblin, who has handpicked the garments says : ‘(Collectivelyh) they paint a unique picture of Parisian style within the context of contemporary fashion design since 1947.”

Co-ordinating curator Robert Reasons of the ARt Gallery of SA, says the exhibition is likely to be a tourist draw-card over the Christmas-New Year holiday period for interstaters who follow fashion trends. He says, the collection brings understanding how so often, Paris designers created signature gowns and garments, which define fashion eras.

Fashiobn Icxons extends into a series of special film screenings, panel discussions and workshops. More information on


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