At the Palais Galliera, the sporting body comes into play


Swimwear photographed by Peter Knapp for “Elle” in 1971.

How has clothing followed the movement of bodies over the years? This is the question that the new exhibition at the Palais Galliera, “Fashion in motion”, tries to answer, to be discovered in the galleries on the ground floor until September 2025. On the program: the unfolding body, which gradually frees itself from its stylistic shackles and tries its hand at physical activity, to finally enter into sports competition. This clash, which will be updated twice, coincides with the upcoming arrival of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the capital.

The opportunity was indeed too tempting for the Paris fashion museum, which then immersed itself in its numerous archives, to extract pieces hitherto unknown to the general public. The museum has also benefited from loans from the National Sports Museum of Nice, the Forney Library (Paris), the heritage of the Chanel house, the Emile Hermès collection and the Sonia Rykiel and Yohji Yamamoto houses.

This is about looking at the clothes that dress the body when it is in action. “Not only through sports practice, but also in everyday life, everyday life”, explains Marie-Laure Gutton, curator of the exhibition. The route here covers three centuries of fashion, from the 18e century to the present day, and presents more than 250 garments and objects. Between bathing suits, cyclist outfits, motorist coats and accessories, or even sneakers, which are essential today, it is also a short sociological history of bodies and the development of sporting activity that is emerging. hollow.

Chanel “Surf” and board suit set by Karl Lagerfeld, spring-summer 1991 collection.

“The practice of walking has been at the heart of hygienist theories from the 18the century “, points out Marie-Laure Gutton. A large part of the pieces offered come from the female wardrobe, “even if women have drawn on men’s wardrobes since the 19e century, in particular when the practice of the bicycle developed. They then borrowed the men’s panties.”.

Athletic bodies and aerobics

As for sportswear, strictly speaking, it was born from transformations made to everyday clothing: we discover, for example, costumes from the Second Empire, whose skirts were trimmed with ties, thus allowing them to be lifted easily to go on a excursion. The first bathing suits, designed in the 19the century when seaside resorts developed as vacation resorts, then cover a large part of the body, decency obliges. Long-sleeved tunics, wool twill trousers reaching down to the calves, we are a far cry from the bikinis of the 1960s.

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