Three Exceptional Costume Exhibits

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (, and also writes a popular insider's blog

It may be pure coincidence that Fashion Week Fall/ Winter 2011 just ended, but the fashion capitol of the world is hosting three costume/design exhibits celebrating the Orient, the history of fashion, and a legendary couturier.

L’Orient des Femmes/ Women of the Orient
Former fashion designer Christian Lacroix, whose failed business is still being mourned by the industry, has reinvented himself as a curator and designer of fashion exhibits. His current exhibition titled L’Orient des Femmes/ Women of the Orient is an exquisite collection of 150 traditional costumes and accessories from the mid-east, spanning from the North of Syria to the Sinai Peninsula. Many of the festive dresses, coats, veils and headdresses, which comprise the bride's trousseau, are seen for the first time in France. The vibrant colors and the delicate hand-embroidery in cotton and silk on these works of art are not only beautiful but tell a fascinating story of the traditions of mid-east women over the centuries.

Till May 15
Quai de Branly Museum
37 Quai de Branly, 7th arr.

History of Fashion Part II 1990-2000

An ambitious undertaking of showing the history of fashion in the late 20th century has been successfully executed by the Musée de Decoratifs. The History of Fashion Part 1 started last year with the trailblazing French designers who made their unforgettable mark in the 1970’s & 80s with their iconic designs.

In the second part of this informative exhibit, homage is paid to the French, Belgian, and Japanese designers who helped shape fashion with a very different attitude from 1990 to 2000. These designers were bold and uncompromising in their personal vision and changed not only of the face of fashion for a future generation but also changed how the public interacted with them. Each designer has a display in a glass vitrine with several of their key pieces from past collections and designers include Martin Margiela, Issey Miyake, Commes des Garcons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries Van Noten, and Alexander McQueen. The strongest part of the show is the entertaining videos of the past runway shows.

Till May 8
Musée de les Arts Decoratifs
107 rue de Rivoli, 1st arr.

Madam Grés-Couture at Work
One of the greatest couturiers of the 20th century, Madame Grés, is finally receiving a long overdue exhibit of her exquisite designs. Born in 1903, Grés was trained as a sculptor, which comes across in her elaborately draped dresses and gowns in which you see a strong Greek goddess influence.  She dressed all of the most fashionable women of her time including the Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo and her couture house was one of the longest running in Paris, dating from 1942 to 1988. A presentation of over 80 of Grés’s designs is from private collections and the archives of the Galliera Museum.

March 25 to July 24
Musée Bourdelle
Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 15th arr.