The Paris Scene: Couture

From new boutiques to fresh eats, visitors to Paris during couture week have plenty of extracurricular pursuits calling between shows.

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Dress and petticoat, Europe, c. 1725, silk plain weave 

Photo By 2010 Museum Associates/LACMA


Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris is hosting “Fashioning Fashion,” an exhibition tracing two centuries of fashion in Europe from the 18th century to the early 20th century. It showcases a major collection of European men’s, women’s and children’s garments and accessories, which was acquired in 2009 by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (where the exhibit originated).

Curated by the Arts Décoratifs’ Véronique Belloir and Denis Bruna, the show takes a chronological approach, examining evolutions in tailoring techniques, technical development and fashion trends from the Age of Enlightenment to World War I.

The first floor is dedicated to the 18th century, while on the upper level visitors can gaze at 19th-century fashion, including luxurious dresses in plain weave silk and pantaloons in silk cut velvet. 

There’s a section on the bustle, which replaced crinolines in around 1870, for instance. The bustle came in different shapes, supporting a sort of cushion called a “pouf,” which assumed the shape of a crayfish tail. But fashion changed fast, and in 1880 the bustle disappeared and was replaced by elongated silhouettes.
Also at Les Arts Décoratifs, in its nave, is the “Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of High Jewelry” exhibit.

“Fashioning Fashion,” through April 14. “Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of High Jewelry,” through Feb. 10. Les Arts Décoratifs, 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Tel. : +33-1-44-55-57-50. Open Tues.-Sun. 11 a.m.- 6 p.m., Thurs. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.

— Laure Guilbault

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