Sunday, 4 May 2014

A quick trip to Paris - Christian Lacroix, Costumier

For Easter weekend a fortnight ago, I visited family in the north east of France. It was great to relax and spend time with family, although the trip was very short, we managed to do a lot! I spent Saturday with my cousin Chloe, and we took a quick day trip to Paris. She showed me around her favourite spots and we made our way to the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art and the Galerie Colbert, for an exhibition of Christian Lacroix's costume designs for ballet and opera.

A few years ago the CNCS, a dedicated costume museum in Moulins, France, had an exhibition of Lacroix's ballet costumes - see my post about it here - I was desperate to go but sadly Moulins is nowhere near our hometown in France, so I never had the chance to see his work. When I heard he was the subject of an exhibition in Paris, I knew I had to go!

I have to be honest and say I was expecting an display a little bigger! This exhibition is really very small! But it's free, and very close by to the Louvre, and all the big museums along the Tuileries, so is perfect for just popping in even if you don't have much time. The display is great introduction to his style, his illustrations and his process. There were sketchbooks and reference images on display as well as fabric swatch pages. His final design sketches were shown alongside bible pages of final fabrics, and three costumes were on display with a video showing some of his work in situe.

A fantastically glamorous design for 'Othello' (1995) and fabric swatches alongside rough sketches.

I love the way Lacroix embraces colour in his work, to create a bold, playful and fun visual style. Tutus, with their layers and layers of net are a fantastic for bringing in plenty of colour. His sketches and paintings are really free-flowing and I love how this gives the subjects movement - perfect for illustrating a ballet costume. This is something I'd like to take into my work, a sense of freedom when drawing. I think it is really important to be able to get your ideas down on paper quickly, so seeing Lacroix's methods of drawing multiple characters on one page in swift lines has given plenty of tips to improve my illustration technique. His pages full of sketches act as a mood board of ideas and show the thought process and development of a costume clearly, which is great for us as exhibition visitors! It gives us a very personal insight. 

Arranged by project, his sketches are displayed alongside reference images, books and fabric swatches in the exhibition. I especially loved the beautiful lace pieces. Below are some sketches from 'Les enfants du sciecle' (1999).

It is really interesting to hear of more and more exhibitions celebrating costume design. If you are a fan of Lacroix's fashion designs or would like a quick introduction into his work in the ballet and opera, this is the exhibition for you! This exhibition is free, and open until 26 June 2014. For more information, go to the INHA website - here.

After a refreshing dose of costume inspiration, Chloe and I finished our trip to Paris with tea and macarons at Ladurée. After all, no trip to Paris is complete without a little bit of Marie Antoinette and a few lovely patisseries! We made sure to take plenty home...

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