Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Eighth Wonder of the World: Paris Fashion Week

by Isabel Stark

'Toilet of Venus' by Diego Velazquez
(source: nationalgallery.org)
There are said to be seven wonders in this world; for me, there are eight. The Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Temple of Artemis are both worthy of having their names engraved on this elite list but so should The Carousel du Louvre, 99 Rue de Rivoli, Paris. Not because of the charming delights sold by Swarovski and Lancel or the little stroll needed before your eyes can feast on the most stunning array of paintings or even the daring  Pyramide Inversée. It’s because twice a year it is home to Paris Fashion Week. The gowns and frocks which are paraded in the most elegant fashion are of an equal quality to the masterpieces hung only a few yards away. The Louvre is home to paintings by Johannes Vermeer and Giovanni Paolo Pannini, who are unparalleled in their artistic ability, much like Chanel and Valentino in their exceptional talent to create a wearable “Toilet of Venus” by Diego Velázquez.
Chanel and the iconic tweed suit, 1958
(source: elle.com)
Chanel created a remarkable phenomenon, “The Little Black Dress”. Designed in 1920 to be versatile, chic and long-lasting, the LBD is just that. Without it a woman’s ever expanding and precious wardrobe would be like a person without a soul. Countless times she has been admired for creating a “timeless style” within an industry which never stands still and constantly evolves. Chanel’s signature design is the open weave tweed suit; it is the epitome of chic and timeless style. She uses clean simple lines to create a masculine tone; this embodies her beliefs of strong independent women, however the masculinity of the simple lines actually gives the suit a very feminine look, making the body of the individual the focus and the contrast with the boxy shapes means the soft curves of a woman are accentuated. Although we look to Chanel, alongside Dior, Prada, Miu Miu and Versace, for the next fashion trend, the simplicity of Chanel’s clothes (and the reason she has stood up against the test of time so well) puts her above fashion and quick trends which will easily fade after one season.
Valentino and the red dress collection
(source: katiechutzpah.blogpot.com)
Valentino is the complete opposite. By using florals and ruffles, he creates a girlish and delicate look; all the time his dresses sing praise to femininity - “a sculpture done on the body of a lady” as the man himself said. “A dress that reveals a woman's ankles while she is walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.”- a very different mentality from feminist Chanel. Valentino’s response to Chanel's iconic suit was the red dress. Worn by the likes of Shy Di and Jackie O (also a wearer of the Chanel suit) and Sophia Lauren, it is hard to fault. The stunning poppy red is not only striking but it moves away from the usual girlish qualities to a more mature, sophisticated and elegant look.
Johannes Vermeer and Giovanni Paolo Pannini were polar opposite in the style of their artwork however, just like Chanel and Valentino, they both were able to create artwork nothing short of pure joy, a joy which at best can be described as magical; without such joy there would be no point in our hearts beating. Twice every year the gowns which are draped so carefully on the models create a sensation which will affect most people in the world. The wonder of fashion is incredible and Paris Fashion Week is at the heart of that wonder, which is why the Carousel du Louvre should be added to such an exclusive list.

An unbelievable excitement took over when I found out that you can visit a collection of over 130 Valentino dresses; these delicate sculptures are at Somerset House this holiday: www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/valentino

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