lundi 4 mai 2009

Sailor chic

Think stripes in blue and white. And jaunty hats and gold buttons. Sailor chic is one style that never goes out of fashion. I’m sure that you too have got a piece or two in your closet just waiting for your inner sailor to take over. And if you look around you, you’re sure to spot someone sporting the stripes! These days, the best way to brush up on nautical fashion is to visit the Musee de la Marine where they are currently running the exhibit “Les Marins Font La Mode” (Sailor Chic in Paris). The idea for exhibition came about when a big fashion house asked to study the Museum’s archives in preparation for their own nautically inspired collection. From here the idea grew till the Museum put together the current exhibit which has about 50 uniforms, emblems and accessories and around 100 outfits and accessories from haute couture houses from the 60s to the present. Not to mention the numerous photographs, prints and portraits that decorates the exhibition halls.
The exhibit is roughly divided into three major parts. The first one deals with the beginnings of the sailor costume. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until 1858 that the official sailor uniform, consisting of a jacket, a hat and the striped navy and white shirt was required for sailors. Previous to that, sailors brought whatever clothes they had on deck. Since then it has not changed much, the costume being adapted slightly when women started to come on board. One of the key pieces of the first part is the suit belonging to France’s first woman Rear Admiral Chantal Desbordes.

Here you can see the official Sailor's uniform in 1858

A whole row of marine uniforms ....
The second half of the exhibit shows the jump of sailor fashion to the landlubbers. For this, credit goes to Queen Victoria of England who liked it so much that she had her children including Edward VII wear it all the time. Inevitably it was soon sported by all fashionable ladies. Initially worn only during vacations by the sea, it soon became something one could wear in the city during the rest of the year. From here, it was only a matter of time before designers took notice, Coco Chanel being one of the first to jump into the fray. There were a number of interesting paintings from this era which really shows the evolution of sailor wear into daily wear. And I have to say that the children’s outfits were really cute!
From city wear, sailor fashion took one more jump when haute couture houses turned their eye and considerable talent to it. For this third part of the exhibit, the clothes are arranged run way style on mannequins. It’s funny to see how sailor fashion has evolved from its previously humble beginnings. As re-imagined by such designers as Yves St. Laurent, Chanel and Jean-Paul Gautier, to name a few whose creations are included in the exhibit, these dresses are sumptuous, fabulous and would be completely out of place on an actual ship, unless you were going to a ball. My favorite was the navy and white striped ball dress in satin designed by John Galliano and worn by Princess Caroline of Monacco at one memorable ball.

What a pleasant way to spend the afternoon at a museum. And from the glimpse I saw of the permanent collection of the Museum, I’m sure to go through their doors at least one more time! Now, let me go see what I have in terms of nautical wear in my closet….

Practical Details
Les Marins Font La Mode
Musee National de la Marine
Palais de Chaillot
75016 Paris
Exhibit runs until the 26th of July 2009
If you have a hankering for some stripes of your own, Jean-Paul Gaultier has designed a line of sailor inspired shirts available at the Museum shop!

1 commentaire:

redaddict a dit…

want to see it, thanks for the preview!