Arts & Entertainment

1997, the year of the ‘Big Bang’ of contemporary fashion

By Maria D. Valderrama

Paris, Mar 5 (EFE).- Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace, John Galliano… The year 1997 was full of events that completely transformed the fashion industry, so much so that now the Palais Galliera, fashion museum in Paris, dedicates an exhibition to it.

Fashion headline Vogue spoke in its “Big Bang” editorial in 1997, referring to the explosion of creativity and new energy that was taking place.

“It is an extraordinary year, compared to the decade and within the recent history of contemporary fashion. There was an explosion of talent and creativity, and within the luxury industry there is a certain development that ends in what we know today as the contemporary fashion,” said Miren Arzalluz, director of the Palais Galliera.

That year he left collections that, due to their innovation and the questioning of beauty canons until then, entered the Fashion History books, among them the “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” by Comme des Garçons. With it, Rei Kawakubo completely distorted female forms, by stretching the fabric, and giving it lumps and bumps.

Martin Margiela presented his famous Stockman collection, turning linings and patterns into Couture clothing; Tom Ford ushered in hypersexualized fashion with his unisex “G-String” thong.

Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler made their Haute Couture debuts. Two irreverent Britons, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, turned the Paris of fashion upside down when they were appointed to the reins of the Christian Dior and Givenchy brands, respectively, with creations that the critics of the time called “costumes.”

They were 12 months full of proposals that broke with the previous cycle, in a period of economic and social crisis, and when it seemed Paris had exhausted its role as the cradle of world fashion.

An upheaval similar to the one that occurred in 1947, after World War II, when Dior created the “New Look” that became the prevailing silhouette until well into the 1960s.

“Dior offered a way to escape the drama of war and return to what was understood as beauty and couture. The context is very different, but the fashion of 1997 also arises from a crisis, not so much human as of the industry,” said Arzalluz, curator of the exhibition together with Alexandre Simon.

At the end of the ‘90s, the phenomenon of globalization accelerated and young directors such as Hedi Slimane, Stella McCartney, Nicolas Ghesquiere or Olivier Theyskens appeared on the stage when they were summoned to direct historical brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe or Balenciaga that shaped by complete while, each one by his side, he made his own name.

The exhibition actually seems like a succession of anecdotes, illustrated with their respective dresses, films and photographs, which chronologically reveal the progress of an extraordinary year.

Among them stands out, for example, the sketch of the last dress that Giorgio Armani made for Princess Diana, revealed weeks after her tragic death, in August 1997. She was, in the words of the Italian, “the icon of fashion and most powerful style of its time.”

A month earlier, Spencer had attended the funeral of Gianni Versace, murdered in Miami days after presenting his Haute Couture collection, also a break with the spectacularity and phenomenon of supermodels that had marked the 1980s. EFE


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