Palais de Galliera

Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Margiela. Gilet en affiches lacÈrÈes, 1990. Galliera, musÈe de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.

Imagine a place where all your fashion fantasies come together; a place where window shopping is encouraged; where “I’m just looking” is not an unwelcome phrase putting the staff into a commission-induced fury, but rather what you’re meant to do; a place where the fashion of kings and queens mingles with the looks of today’s street style stars. And of course, when one imagines such a place, it must be in the most fashionable city in the world- Paris, where Gabrielle Chanel created her first hats and eventually opened her couturier house, Chanel. A place where, in one day, you can submerge yourself in the roaring twenties and then quickly surround yourself with the swinging sixties. This magical place will soon become a reality thanks to the Mayor of Paris and the house of Chanel. The Palais Galliera in Paris, France, currently stages temporary exhibits dedicated to fashion, but it will soon become a permanent fashion museum.

Jean-Paul Gaultier. Robe seins obus et bonnet, velours de soie orange, vers 1990. Paris, musÈe Galliera.

The museum, formally known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (Fashion Museum of the City of Paris), is located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and resides in an exquisite, stone, Italian Renaissance style building with statues representing painting, architecture, and sculpture adorning the facade. It is only fitting that a museum dedicated to fashion should be housed in a structure that pays homage to the history of the arts and the city of lights itself.

Christobal Balenciaga (1895-1972). Ensemble du soir robe et jupon, passage n∞157. Gazar díAbraham, tulle polyamide, taffetas et plumes díautruche, don de Monsieur CristÛbal Balenciaga. Collection Automne-hiver 1967-1968. Galliera, musÈe de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.

The Palais Galliera currently does not display its permanent collection, likely due to space limitations and conservation difficulties. We don’t realize that, though our everyday clothes are made of fabric, the reality is that after being exposed to atmospheric elements, everyday wear and tear, and the oils of human skin, the fibers can deteriorate without proper preservation. Similar to traditional forms of art- oil paintings, sculptures, etc.- fashion must be expertly protected against the powers that be. With the partnership of Chanel, the necessary funds will be provided in order to take care of these garments and make them available to the public.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, is the driving force behind this initiative, and she has teamed up with Chanel to create this permanent homage to the heritage of French fashion. The permanent space, which will be located in the basement, will be named after Gabrielle Chanel, will span over 7,000 square feet and display pieces from as early as the 18th century to present day. According to the press release, the museum will also contain a gift shop, workshop space, and a bookstore. The temporary exhibits will still be a part of the museum, as well, being displayed on the ground floor.

Joseph Paquin, ModËle n∞64 “GiroflÈe”, hiver (1917-1918). 1917. Galliera, musÈe de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. Dimensions : 18 cm x 24 cm

Enough with technicalities; what will fashionistas and aficionados find when they visit the museum? The permanent exhibit will not only display actual garments spanning centuries, but it will also include accessories, photography, and graphic art. We can only hope that designer sketches will be made available, as well, to serve as inspiration for aspiring designers. There will be men’s clothing, such as intricately embroidered coats of the rich and powerful, and the dresses of the women who accompanied them to balls and in the court; a well-worn, jewel-adorned dress that French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, wore in the 1800s; and classics from a variety of designers, Chanel included, bien sur. There will also be some iconic and very recognizable frocks, such as a John Paul Gaultier cone-bodice evening dress and heavily beaded Lacroix pieces, too. There will also be contemporary pieces, such as the pink Balenciaga dress that Cate Blanchet wore to the Blue Jasmine premiere.

So, when can we book our flights? The museum is aimed to open in 2019, so a mere two years stand between us and our fashion Disneyland. Until then, stay tuned for updates and enjoy the dreamy images we’ve granted- may they serve as the inspiration you need to finally take that trip to Paris.

Text by Leah Tassinari