'The 18th Century Back In Fashion' Exhibition in Versailles

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The Palace of Versailles and the Musée Galliera present an exhibition dedicated to the influence of the 18th Century on modern fashion. From haute couture to ready-to-wear, fifty looks all reflecting 18th Century dress are exhibited, each created by a great designer from the 20th century. The collection was drawn from the archives of couture houses and from the Galliera’s own private collections.

French culture of the 18th century was embodied by Madame de Pompadour and influenced all the European Courts of the time. Madame Du Barry and even more so Marie-Antoinette were also paragons of this frivolity that has continued to fascinate and influence cinema, literature and fashion throughout the ages.

During the nineties renowned designer Vivienne Westwood, known for her provocative designs and punk creations, produced a stunning col­lection inspired by the eighteenth century. Boucher paintings printed onto corsets and ample pannier dresses decorated with mischievous cherubs were all part of her Autumn-Winter 1990/1991 collection, Portrait. Through Vivienne Westwood, the Age of Enlightenment became a huge influence on fashion at the time. A fervent advocate of the art of tailoring, the British designer continued using ribbons instead of safety pins and masterfully assembled her subversive historical models. Vivienne Westwood had set the trend for the future, with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Christian Lacroix all following suit.

The following pieces are exhibited;


Left: Balenciaga - Ready-to-wear dress, Spring/Summer 2006. Flesh-coloured satin organza, embroidered medallion, undergarments in ecru lace.

Right: Yves Saint Laurent - Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 1995/1996. Black velvet evening dress.


Christian Dior - Left : Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 2004/2005. Red moire and velours dress decorated with blue and white embroidery.

Right : Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 2007/2008. Pink shot silk taffeta dress, veiled with candy pink tulle. “Doutzen Kroes” dress inspired by Fragonard.


Jean Paul Gaultier - Left : Collection: “Les Marquis touaregs” Haute couture, Spring/Summer 1998. Leather jacket with faded organza leaves. Leather trousers.

Right : Collection; “Les Marquis touaregs” Haute couture, Spring/Summer 1998. Hooped jacket with lamé, tulle, frills, ruches, bows.


Thierry Mugler - Left : Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 1997/1998. Black loop stitch wool military greatcoat trimmed with fake Mongolian monkey fur over pink and black shot tulle “Constellation” dress.

Droite : Ready-to-wear, Autumn/Winter 1992/1993. “Infante” ball dress. Black barathea and pleated tulle.


Vivienne Westwood - Left : Ready-to-wear evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1995/96. Pink and pale blue duchesse satin. Model inspired by the portrait of Madame de Pompadour by Boucher. Collection: “Vive la Cocotte”.

Right : Ready-to-wear evening dress, Spring/Summer 1996. Duchesse satin with black, blue, pink and yellow print, trimmed with lace, silk tulle apron. Collection “Les Femmes”.

Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto - Left : Ready-to-wear, Spring/Summer 2011. Waistcoat, shirt, breeches.

Right : Ready-to-wear, Spring/Summer 2011. Black and blue outfit: shirt, jacket, breeches.

The exhibition can be seen from July 8th to October 9th 2011 at Grand Trianon, Versailles, France.

Sources: Vivienne Westwood Press & Chateau Versailles