SPOTLIGHT ON MODELS

There’s really no better place than Paris, the ultimate fashion capital, to hold an exhibition dedicated to haute couture. On the eastern fringe of the capital and overlooking the Seine, there’s an old industrial warehouse called La Cité de la Mode et du Design and nicknamed Les Docks. It’s the unlikely home of one of the biggest fashion museums out there – the site of last year’s stellar exhibitions on Cristóbal Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo.

©Henry Clarke/Gal liera

It’s now dedicating its grounds to the latest of Paris’s Musée Galliera off-site show Mannequin-Le Corps de la Mode (and for those of you not graced with the language of French that’s, Models – The Body of Fashion) and pays tribute to the model in all its splendour. Here at Topshop we have a lot of love for models – they were a huge part of our AW13 show and we’ve always got a new favourite that we’re desperate to work for, so this really seemed like a fitting and very new take on a fashion exhibit.

© Guy Bourdin, with the permission of Michael Hoppen Contemporary gallery, London.

The show charts the history of modeling, from the early 20th century right through to the iconic Kate Moss. This isn’t just a bunch of pretty fashion pictures but an important look into models’ style, personality and shapes through the ages.

If pretty pictures are your thing we can confirm there’s 120 spectacular photographic prints and 40 videos from the likes of Erwin Blumenfeld, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Nick Knight and Juergen Teller, all of which share a little something about the model of that particular moment in time.

“For once, I wanted people to have a different look at fashion photography—that is, by taking models as the starting point, instead of always focusing on the apparel or on the photographer,” says curator Sylvie Lecallier. “We underestimate how much models embody society’s feminine ideals of beauty and youth and how their impact has gradually transcended the world of fashion.”

© Interfoto/Gal liera/Roger-Viollet

It’s amazing to see the change in the industry! We were shocked to find that in the 19thcentury dress makers and sales women were used as the first living models before the birth of haute couture needed a more iconic fashion figure including actresses and ladies from high society. There’s undoubtedly a world of difference from today’s models whose faces quickly turn them into stars on glossy pages and television screens. So, whether you’ve an interest in the changing face of beauty or just love to look at some of the most amazing fashion photographers work in the flesh, then don’t miss this killer show.

Catch Mannequin, Le Corps de la Mode at La Cité de la Mode et du Design in Paris, France until 19 May

© Valérie Belin 2006-2013, with the permission of Jérôme de Noirmont gallery, Paris.