The exhibition ‘Culture Chanel. La Donna che Legge’, curated by Jean Louis Froment in collaboration with Gabriella Belli, is on show at Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice, Italy, from the 17th September 2016 to the 8th January 2017.
‘La Donna che Legge’ is the seventh issue of the ‘Culture Chanel’ exhibitions curated by Jean Louis Froment that disclose through its key elements the vocabulary of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and her House. This time, the focus is on the relationship between the fashion creator and the written word. Featuring around 350 works ranging from texts, photographs and sketches, the exhibition offers an insight on the private library of Coco Chanel, showing her strong bounds with the culture of her time. The vast selection of books and art objects, that come from the shelves of the designer’s apartment in Rue Cambon, helps to reconstruct the modern world of Coco Chanel through the works and the words of the authors that helped to form it.
Is fashion art? A simple question conceals the complex universe of an articulated relationship that has long been investigated, but without arriving at a clear and unequivocal definition. This project analyses the forms of dialogue between these two worlds: reciprocal inspirations, overlaps and collaborations, from the experiences of the Pre-Raphaelites to those of Futurism, and from Surrealism to Radical Fashion.
The exhibition itinerary focuses on the work of Salvatore Ferragamo, who was fascinated and inspired by the avant-garde art movements of the 20th century, on several ateliers of the Fifties and Sixties that were venues for studies and encounters, and on the advent of the culture of celebrities. It then examines the experimentation of the Nineties and goes on to ponder whether in the contemporary cultural industry we can still talk about two separate worlds or if we are instead dealing with a fluid interplay of roles.
The distinctive aspect of the exhibition layout lies in the collaboration with other cultural institutions, which took an active part in implementing this concept with the aim of inspiring joint reflection: in addition to the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, promotor and organizer of the project together with the Fondazione Ferragamo, in Florence the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, the Gallerie degli Uffizi (the Galleria d’arte moderna di Palazzo Pitti and the Galleria del Costume), the Museo Marino Marini, and in Prato the Museo del Tessuto.
Proust’s Muse, The Countess Greffulhe features 40 extraordinary fashions and accessories from the fabulous wardrobe of Élisabeth de Caraman-Chimay, the Countess Greffulhe (1860-1952). A famous beauty celebrated for her « aristocratic and artistic elegance, » the countess fascinated her contemporaries, including Marcel Proust who told her cousin, Robert de Montesquiou, « I have never seen a woman so beautiful. » When Proust wrote his great novel In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), the Countess Greffulhe was one of the primary inspirations for his immortal fictional character, Oriane, the Duchess de Guermantes, of whom he wrote, « Each of her dresses seemed like…the projection of a particular aspect of her soul. »
Proust’s Muse is based on La Mode retrouvée: Les robes trésors de la comtesse Greffulhe, an exhibition organized in Paris by Olivier Saillard, director of the Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, which is the repository of the countess’s wardrobe. Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, has organized the exhibition in New York in collaboration with Saillard.