Approaching the Christmas holidays, we tend to reflect on the year’s highs and lows. The most special moments for me were those related to a lecture, a talk, a show, an encounter, a lunch or a trip abroad. The emotions I felt then are responsible for a change in my vision which has pushed me into new experiences and new projects.
The lecture I gave in mid 2017 before a group of chief executives, managers at Valentino Milano headquarters, was a challenging one. The subject of “Time versus Timelessness” had haunted me for a few months as fashion consumerism changed dramatically in 2017. Designers, architects, artists or performers inspired me in my understanding of the multidisciplinary aspect of the concept of “time”. Einstein brought me to the point of challenging an audience to reflect on “Intuition versus Instinct”.
Another important passage in 2017 was my tutorship of more than sixty final year fashion design students. Their collections, based on their research, sometimes lacked a truly contemporary feel. Sleeves, falling like empty leaves from the shoulders of the models, felt like useless volumes unflattering to the human body. The fashion show, the final moment when all the efforts of teachers and students come together and a year of discussions and analysis are put into practise, was a joy for many, a disappointment for others.
Another stimulating experience of my year was having the Polimoda master students of Luxury Business in Paris for a few days. Organising visits to designer companies, meeting top HR managers or important head hunters presented a complex puzzle to arrange. But after a few days, a strong emotional bond with the group of 11 people was created; we kept in touch by Skype or by mail or over a cup of coffee or a drink later in the year.
I attended many shows during 2017. Menswear in January, haute couture in January and July, women’s wear in March and October. My most intense moments were in October, as I tried to view most of the shows with a critical eye; (you can read my report on this blog). Shows are tiring because you travel to remote locations in Paris, stand in the rain or cold, wait for the Uber to pick you up. The difficult part is having an invitation, but when it arrives on your doorstep the adrenaline starts to work. Shows are socially interesting, especially the 30 minutes before the show starts when you chat with your neighbour, a journalist or a buyer, an ex-student or a friend. Those conversations can lead to interesting debates about the fashion system. This is the human side, I would say. To witness a live show by Rick Owens, a designer with great integrity, is an enormous privilege in this confusing and not always realistic fashion world.
A year is also interesting when you visit exhibitions that are mind openers. In 2017 this was not the case of the 57th Venice Biennale. Christine Macel, the curator of this Biennale, did not analyse the ethics of the art system, nor did she provoke new aspects for looking at art. A curator who lacks any spiritual provocation and thus does not seek to reflect on a society that is weary in crisis, is a curator who does not challenge opinions and strategies, but just makes an automatic, vacuous choice of artists, without a strong vision that questions and pushes for change.
On the contrary, the team at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris is constantly challenging itself by offering a ‘carte blanche’ to artists; in 2016 the exhibition/performance by the artist Tino Sehgal was an immense success. The artist guided visitors around all the spaces of Palais de Tokyo in a series of conversations with people you met for the first time, creating a quite unforgettable experience. This year, the Palais de Tokyo gave ‘carte blanche’ to Camille Henrot. ‘Days are Dogs’ is a strange but fascinating exhibition/promenade around those open spaces offered by the Palais. Not to be missed! Also in the Palais de Tokyo, each year in April young artists invade the museum space for a few days. The event provides many exciting moments confirming the creativity of a new generation of artists. Do-Disturb must be seen in 2018! And be sure to have dinner or lunch in the newly opened Brasserie ‘Les Grands Verres’ where young chefs prepare innovative and surprising dishes for you.
Personally, I like exhibitions as interventions in existing museums. Le Musée de la Chasse is therefore an ideal visit. Sophie Calle invited the artist Serena Carone to the museum. Both artists tell stories; a strange and fascinating journey is waiting for you until February 11th. And there was Christian Dior, couturier du rêve! I was privileged to attend the opening ceremony in Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris and it felt like a show in a show… amazing luxury wafting over as in a dream.
A year is so much more than the events and sensations that I have related here. A year is emotionally packed with decisions to make, opinions to share, or mornings with people who pass through and leave you forever. And there were a few.
Let me end this report with a personal initiative I undertook; I subscribed in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in rue Bonaparte in Paris and attended some drawing lessons of the nude. Those were maybe my most intense moments of the year 2017. Looking at the different naked models and their fascinating poses, listening to the teacher’s advice, drawing with my left hand and sketching shadows or a three-dimensional form on blank paper, was the best present I gave myself this year.
To all of you, a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018!