Views from a Paris window + yves saint laurent

Going BIG at the ROM


Tomorrow the newest fashion-centric exhibit — BIG — opens in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume, Level 4 at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was lucky enough to be asked to attend the special pre-opening on Tuesday evening so can show you a bit of a sneak peek!
The exhibit showcases 40 artifacts chosen from the ROM's 50,000 strong archive. The objects highlighted represent pieces from around the world and were chosen based on their BIG status in a myriad of ways. Some of the objects are being publicly displayed for the first time and the installation offers a fresh, new way of exploring the ROM’s renowned collections.


The centerpiece of the exhibit is Passage #5, a true Houte Couture coat and dress ensemble that was designed by John Galliano for Christian Dior Couture. It was specially commissioned by the ROM and was inspired by fashion illustrator René Gruau’s drawings of the 1940s and 1950s and is a 21st century reworking of Dior’s 1947 New Look. It was a highlight of Dior’s Spring 2011 collection. A short documentary, complements the display. The film details the intricacies involved in creating this remarkable garment, including the 500+ hours by a Dior team.
500+ hours!
If you love vintage as much as I do you will get lost in this film. Seeing someone make tiny stitches, one by one, all by hand and then to be able to turn around and see the completed dress behind you is like magic!

Curator, Dr. Alexander Palmer, who I know and admire, was the driving force behind that acquisition and it was a project that was begun prior to the subsequent scandal that resulted in Galliano's expulsion from the house. The themes of the exhibit was not only BIG in terms of size but big in terms of cultural impact, message and innovation. Obviously, Galliano impacted not only the fashion world, in the sense of his contribution to the field, but also in a bigger cultural sense, served to show what we will and won't tolerate in society anymore. I appreciated that the scandal was not glossed over but addressed during the opening remarks in a blunt and forward kind of way. I have to admit I was a little curious as to how it would be handled and I thought it was presented perfectly — there was no trying to hide the scandal but at the same time it was not used to detract from the exhibit either. A museum's place is not to judge but to showcase history as it was. And that is how they presented this particular piece. The dress was commissioned prior to the events and now serves as both a reminder of Galliano's genius and of his downfall and weaknesses. It also serves to remind us that as a society we have made great strides in non-tolerance. Absolutely a BIG statement.

Alexander Palmer commented: “BIG is not just about size. Even the smallest textile can have BIG personal, social, and cultural value that shifts according to context. brilliantly looks at the meaning of textiles and fashions from around the globe and across time"

The exhibit feels intimate and there are interactive elements that I loved. Many displays have drawers you can pull out and see more objects once they are opened. I loved that — it gives you that feeling of being a kid once again and discovering a found treasure. The pieces are a combination of clothing and textiles and spans centuries. Cultures are also spanned and some pieces were especially inspiring (I tried SO hard to talk Alexandra into letting me borrow the Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent F/W2004 sequin gown and shawl for even just ONE night but even with bribery offered the answer was still a firm no — poo!) Some pieces are as equally deeply disturbing — seeing the Chinese bound silk slippers in a photo and seeing them in person and realizing just how SMALL they really are and what a BIG impact they would have had on the women mutilated for life to fit into them was profoundly repulsive. At the same time they are exquisitely perfect and beautiful and real works of art. The conflict of emotions over my innate appreciation over their beauty conflicting with the natural repulsion caused by the knowledge of their purpose, was particularly disturbing for me.
And that is exactly why they are included.

It really is a fabulous exhibit and I strongly urge you to take an afternoon and spend it at the ROM. I am looking forward to one day seeing the other 49,960 items tucked away in their extensive archives!
Have a wonderfully cultural and vintage filled dayxxx cherie
_________________________________________________________ Top photo: John Galliano for Dior Spring/Summer 2011 — photo provided by the ROMAll small photos from my iphone — Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent F/W 2004, I wore 1972 William de Lillo prototype archival cuffs sourced by my colleague David Sheflin (see more from this once in a life time collection here ), 1960s Courreges jacket, a 1970s silk satin jumpsuit, Tom Ford horn pendant 2012, Givenchy shark tooth pendant 2012 Photo 2 & 3: Haute Couture John Galliano for Dior Spring/Summer 2011, and the back of the piece. Both photos provided by the ROMPhoto 4: Janet Carding, Director & CEO of the ROM and Dr Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Curator in the ROM’s World Cultures departmentPhoto 5: Digitally printed Vivienne Tam gown, F/W 2011 runway shot of the gown included in the display. Photo provided by the ROM with credit to Thomas KleteckaPhoto 6: Silk shoe for bound foot, 1910-1915, China paired with a Postillion boot, 1812.1815, France. Photo provided by the ROMPhoto 7: Me, My Guy and our gorgeous friend Anita Clarke, girl behind the I Want, I Got blog Royal Ontario Museum100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario www.rom.on.ca

Alexandra palmer, art, cherie federau, Christian Dior, couture, design, dress, fashion, John galliano, life, love, ROM Big exhibit, shrimpton couture, Tom Ford, and more:

Going BIG at the ROM + yves saint laurent