MUSEUM QUALITY: How’s this for a shopping list: Yohji Yamamoto coat, David Downton sketch, Courrèges couture suit, Comme des Garçons cage jacket — not to mention 32 other outfits, photographs and sketches.
Curator Olivier Saillard was able to buy all that for the fashion museum at the Palais Galliera, where he is director, thanks to the Vogue Paris Foundation, a fund established in February by the French magazine with an annual initial grant of 100,000 euros, or $137,660 at current exchange.
Now Saillard and Emmanuelle Alt, editor in chief of Vogue Paris, hope to raise in the neighborhood of 200,000 euros, or $275,320, with the foundation’s inaugural gala, scheduled for Wednesday in the neo-Renaissance palace’s striking peristyle.
Saillard said the museum’s affiliation with the fashion magazine has also opened the door to a windfall of donations: 23 outfits and 10 photographs, the latter thanks to Alt’s Rolodex.
“I have direct access to the photographers: I work with them, we are friends now, so I asked them this favor,” she said as Saillard marveled that she could coax large-scale works from the likes of Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Mario Sorrenti, David Sims and Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.
Saillard said the fund is already allowing the museum to fill important holes in its contemporary collection. The foundation also opened the door to standoff-ish fashion houses thanks to the “glamour” associated with the Vogue brand and its much-photographed editor.
In a joint interview in Saillard’s garretlike office, Alt noted that the magazine has no say in the museum’s acquisition policy, but it is fully behind Saillard’s ambitions to blow the dust off costume exhibitions and buy into important contemporary fashions, with the curator often placing orders right after a fashion show, much like a retailer.
“It’s a museum for today,” Alt stressed, excitedly discussing with Saillard recent additions such as a Maison Martin Margiela jacket made of wigs, eight dresses by enigmatic Spanish designer Sybilla, and an important “surrealist” couture gown donated by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Not that it’s strictly a French project. Alt said Italian fashion houses, including Prada, were among the first to snap up tables for the gala, which she said would be done “on a Parisian scale” and more intimate and low-key than the Met ball for the Costume Institute in New York. Saillard said the gala would enrich the museum’s acquisition budget by a large margin. By comparison, the institution gets about 40,000 euros, or $55,065, annually from the city.
Its newly acquired items are to be displayed at the gala, and be credited to the Vogue Paris Foundation when included in upcoming exhibitions, including one devoted to Jeanne Lanvin as the house marks its 125th anniversary.
Saillard noted he also plans to introduce performance elements to future exhibitions, inviting actresses and choreographers to participate.