Presents from the Past

photo the style bar
photo the style bar 2015

Another Fashion Month has ended, and, as always, there was a lot of inspiration from the past in many of the collections.

That’s nothing new, of course, but it did put me in mind of the absolutely, fantastically, inspiring exhibition I visited back in January this year at the Galerie Azzedine Alaïa.

photo the style bar
photo the style bar 2015

Such a beautiful space in and of itself, this special spot is tucked away in the BHV-end of Paris’ le Marais in the 3rd arrondissement. The exhibition was of a collection of photographs of the celebrated French fashion model Bettina Graziani, who died in Paris earlier this month.

Often described as the ‘first supermodel’, Bettina was a muse to the likes of Hubert de Givenchy and Jacques Fath, and was photographed by some of the most iconic photographers of the 20th century.


As her heyday was the 1940s and 50s, when I say iconic photographer, I’m talking about people like Irving Penn, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Robert Doisneau. The above shot was taken by Émile Savitry in 1952.


I absolutely adored this ‘expo’, as the French colloquially call an exhibition, indulging their penchant for abbreviating words – not just for the great poses and insouciant expressions of Bettina, but for how completely amazing the clothes look in black and white.


Love the very Spanish-inspired ‘Bettina’ blouse by Givenchy!

Of course they shot fashion very differently back then, and I’m not sure how to describe it, but the result is an image that looks simple but in fact is anything but. What was so fascinating was that a black and white photograph actually lets you really ‘see’ the clothes – not just the tailoring or the texture and cut of the fabric; but the stitching, the buttons and all those small details that somehow get lost in colour.


Of course, it helped that the clothes themselves, often shot against the simple backdrop of a Paris landmark, were amazing too.


And the bottom (style) line? Well personally, it totally inspired me to channel the spirit of elegant, simple yet detailed dressing no matter what the time of day, the season, or the occasion.

Happy (elegant) styling!


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