Paris Exhibitions – July 2011

Paris is a city for strolling, and there is a lovely French word for this, flaneur.

In the 19th century, essayist and art critic Charles Baudelaire developed a meaning of flâneur – that of “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”.

I was strolling by this beautiful building, The Galleria, Paris’ official museum of fashion which is closed for renovation until 2012 and the striking banners advertising the first ever exhibit of the couturier Madame Gres caught my eye.

I’d heard of Madame Gres, and knew she was known for amazing draping in her gowns, and remembered a few beautiful black and white photographs of her gowns on movie stars in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, but I wasn’t expecting to experience one of the best exhibits in Paris this year.

The installation by curator Oliver Saillard is brilliant, and it is such an appropriate choice to house the exhibition at the Musee Bourdelle, Website : which is the former home and studio of sculptor Emile Antoine Bourdelle.

Clearly Madame Gres’ training as a sculptor is apparent in her designs and she said, “for me it is just the same to work with fabric or stone.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Fashion illustration by Madame Gres.

This hooded dress on the one armed mannequin reminded me of my illustration for the Ghost of Christmas Past in my pop-up book, Charles Dickens A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

VERSAILLES – Monday – July 4, 2011

Another fabulous installation I discovered is the work of contemporary French sculptor, Bernard Venet in the gardens at Versailles.  Venet’s monumental steel sculptures create a dialogue between the landscape and architecture, the present and the past, the classical and the contemporary.

I highly recommend visiting the gardens of Versailles (and renting a bike) on a Monday when the chateau is closed.  Even in the middle of the high tourist season I felt like I had the place to myself.

The Petite Trianon