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A decisive year in the history of contemporary fashion, which saw the current fashion scene take shape at the turn of the millennium, 1997 hit the catwalks and left a lasting impression on people’s minds.

© Raf Simons PE 1997

Whether we remember the shock of Comme des Garçons’ introduction of deformed bodies with the “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” collection, the disruptive minimalism of Martin Margiela’s “Stockman” collection or Raf Simons’ post-rock tidal wave.

A real “Big Bang” that Paris needed to regain its place as leader, according to Vogue Paris magazine, 1997 marked the entry into haute-couture of Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler, star designers of the 1980s, but also Alexander McQueen (at Givenchy) and John Galliano (at Christian Dior), who were to bring a new wind of sulphureous and very British extravagance to the major French fashion houses… 

© Guy Laroche par Alber Elbaz

1997 was also the year in which the names that still shape fashion today emerged: Hedi Slimane, Stella McCartney, Nicolas Ghesquière, Olivier Theyskens… Or the inauguration of the Colette concept store, which was to be “the epicenter of fashion for twenty years”…

An “explosive” vintage that the Palais Galliera invites us to taste through evocations and reconstructions: The launch of Thierry Mugler’s “Insects” collection, the creation of U2’s costumes for their world tour by the very transgressive Walter Van Beirendonck, and those for Luc Besson’s film The Fifth Element by Jean-Paul Gautier, whose theatrical collection marked the return of opulence and the spectacular after the reign of minimalism.

© Dior par John Galliano
© Comme des Garçons PE 1997

Another shockwave was the cover of Björk’s Homogenic album, on which she was dressed by Alexander McQueen to appear as a multi-ethnic warrior “with love as her only weapon”… Or the distorted silhouettes designed by Rei Kawakubo for the pioneer of abstract dance, Merce Cunningham, and his ballet Scenario presented in October at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. 

“1997 Fashion Big Bang”

Until 16 July

Palais Galliera, Paris – France

Stéphanie Dulout