Monday 1 April 2024

Fashion and Sports: From one Podium to Another

Looking forward to the 2024 Olympics, the Musée des Arts décoratifs (Paris) presented Fashion and Sports: From one Podium to Another (20 September 2023 – 7 April 2024), an exhibition on the fascinating interconnections between fashion and sports from the Ancient World to the present day.

This major exhibition illuminates the shared social concerns and focus on the body of the apparently unrelated worlds of fashion and sports. 450 items of clothing, accessories, photographs, sketches, magazines, posters, paintings, sculptures and videos illustrate the evolution of sportswear and its influence on contemporary fashions. Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli were some of the interwar fashion design pioneers who found inspiration in the world of sports.

The exhibition shows how they made sportswear fashionable in a wider range of contexts, including in everyday wardrobes. The importance of comfortable clothes is a recurrent theme, explaining why tracksuits and sneakers are now ubiquitous on the streets and on the catwalk, from Balenciaga to Off- White. The exhibition was curated by Sophie Lemahieu, Keeper of the museum’s post-1947 Fashion and Textiles Collections.

At the centre of the exhibition is a contemporary fashion “running track” overhung with golden rings in homage to the Olympics. Photographs show some of the sports stars who have been particularly inspirational for fashion designers, including Zinedine Zidane for Dior, and Naomi Osaka for Louis Vuitton.

Models walk up and down the track clad in the designs of some of the prestigious couturiers who have drawn inspiration from the rich and diverse world of sports: we catch a glimpse of a football motif on outfits by Comme des Garçons and Paco Rabanne, a baseball jacket in a collection presented by Off-White... We also discover that athletes themselves brought fashion to the sporting world, including Serena Williams and Andre Agassi, who sported bold outfits on the tennis court, and Surya Bonaly, who wore Christian Lacroix designs at ice skating competitions. In the background, podiums illuminate the increasing number of collaborations between great sportswear brands and fashion designers. In 2003, Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto pioneered this new type of joint venture with the Y-3 collection. Other collaborations are also presented, notably those of Lacoste and Freaky Debbie, Gucci and Adidas, and Balmain and Puma. Last but not least, the spectators in the stands use their outfits to project a certain image at a sporting event. From the elegant dresses that ladies wore at the races in 1900 to the football shirts of the RC-Lens football team’s supporters, practices have seen major changes over the years.

The exhibition design is by BGC Studio.

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