Visiting Harper’s Bazaar Exhibition
During Fall Break, our Year 1 students from the MA Fashion Studies course went to visit the exhibition Harper’s Bazaar, Premier Magazine De Mode, as part of their course History of Fashion and Mediation, taught by professor Antoine Bucher, in a lesson regarding the relationship between Fashion and Museums, in order to start approaching the curatorial world.
The exhibition is held at MAD Museum until January 3rd, 2021, and curated by Éric Pujalet-Plaà, assistant curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Marianne Le Galliard, doctor of art history and photography expert, and assisted by Lola Barillot, Documentation and Coordination Officer.
The students were able to see the evolution of a fashion magazine through history.
Bazaar was launched in 1867 by Harper & Brothers as a women’s magazine focused on fashion, society, arts, and literature and soon became a one of a kind publication for its visuals and graphics.
In the 20th century, fundamental was its collaboration with many avant-garde artists such as Picasso, Cocteau, and Matisse, or later with Andy Warhol (portraying a young Yves Saint Laurent in the picture above), all featuring their illustrations in the magazine, using its pages as a new distribution tool. Dada photographer and artist Man Ray was also chosen by the magazine’s great editor-in-chief Carmel Snow to capture the latest fashion, and one of his surrealist photos became the first photographic cover that the publication ever featured (picture below).
Among the great names that contributed to the creation of its most glorious pages, graphic designer Alexey Brodovitch and fashion editor Diana Vreeland need to be remembered: together, they created modern aesthetics both in fashion and graphic design that are still as influential today, rethinking the pages of the magazine as film scenes, and creating a continuous narration based on the double page (picture above).
Some fashion history turning points were also presented, for example when Carmel Snow in 1947 named Christian Dior’s first collection the “New Look”, setting the tone for the new age of haute couture (the pieces that composed the actuations “New Look” silhouette were also displayed, as seen in the picture below).
Presenting then the great age of fashion photography, with names such as Richard Avedon, and later Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh, along with supermodels and public figures, the magazine continues to create stunning visuals and to help defining what contemporary fashion is all about, maintaining its relationship with influential designers and artists, always featured through its pages.
It was a great opportunity to be able to attend the exhibition just before the lockdown, since it set the tone for a great in-class discussion about what we consider as “fashion exhibition”, what it means to think about an exhibition not primarily about clothes, and how the elements are presented and used to communicate what the curators want the visitor to understand.