Fashion Forward: The Evolution During Three Centuries

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fashion collection, Musée des arts Décoratif put together an exhibition dedicated to the fashion history of the last three centuries. With 300 hundreds items of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion brought together, the evolution of dress codes in each period is exposed in every detail, from the fussy dresses of Marie Antoinette’s times to Dior’s ground breaking “New Look” skirts.

Robe à la Francaise
Robe à la Francaise (18th century), one of the items  displayed at the exhibition © Musee des Arts Decoratifs

The designs selected for this exhibition came from donations of the fashion houses along with creations bought by the museum. They will definitely take you on a journey through time, highlighting important moments in the history of fashion from the late 17th century to the most modern creations.

A creation of Jacques Doucet
A creation of Jacques Doucet, once belonged to Cleo de Merode © Musee des Arts Decoratifs
Chanel Robe du Soir Haute Couture Spring Summer 1996
Chanel Evening Dress, Haute Couture Spring Summer 1996 © Musee des Arts Decoratifs

The exhibition also enhances every “fashion moment” in each era by the clever combination between fashion and the decorative arts, from the tapestry and wooden decoration placed behind Louis XIVth’s garments to the illustrations that go perfectly with Paul Poiret’s liberating dresses.

dress with hood from Azzedine Alaïa
The famous black dress with hood from Azzedine Alaïa © David Requena
Delphos Evening Gown from Mariano Fortuny
Delphos Evening Gown from Mariano Fortuny © David Requena

The museum’s chief curator of fashion and textile, Pamela Goldin, said in an interview with W that “The history of fashion is also a history of a body.” Therefore, the artistic director position for this exhibition has been assigned to a dancer – choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Each mannequin, set in positions similar to how people would move and act in their respective time period, is inspired from the pose of dancers from Opéra de Paris, in order to deliver a charismatic posture and distinctive style. The Tony award winner has succeeded in bringing a breath of poetry and sensuality into this exhibition by creating a world for each of its stages.

Dior's the New Look
Dior‘s the New Look © David Requena

Fashion constantly keeps evolving and adapting itself to the aesthetic of each era, but somehow, there are always small hints from the past. Perhaps because of this idea, at the end of this exhibition, there is a mirror reflecting all of the designs that are displayed indicating that the future is still unknown but there will always be inspiration drawn from the past.

The exhibition “Fashion Forward: Three Centuries of Fashion” is held at Musée des Art Décoratifs until 14th August 2016 at 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris from 11:00 to 18:00, Tuesday to Sunday. For more information, visit


Written by Trang Nguyen

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