MUSEUM QUALITY: How’s this for a shopping list: Seven rare Madame Grès couture dresses, one Paco Rabanne, eight Martine Sitbon pieces, photo prints by Deborah Turbeville, drawings by the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, for a total of 36 pieces.
Curator Olivier Saillard was able to make those purchases for the fashion museum at the Palais Galliera, where he is director, with the support of the Vogue Paris Foundation, a fund established last year by the French magazine with an annual grant of 100,000 euros, or $111,063 at current exchange.
Saillard and Emmanuelle Alt, editor in chief of Vogue Paris, raised around 200,000 euros, or $222,126, with the foundation’s second edition of the gala scheduled for Monday in the neo-Renaissance palace’s striking peristyle.
Saillard said the museum’s affiliation with the fashion magazine has opened the door to a windfall of donations coinciding with the gala — 36 pieces from houses such as Chanel, Celine, Hermès, Chloé, Fendi, Versace and Givenchy.
“The concept remains the same; houses come; buy tables,” Alt said. “It is important to support French fashion and couture. It’s really about the heritage and to celebrate Paris.”
Alt noted that the magazine has no say in the museum’s acquisition policy, but it is fully behind Saillard’s ambitions to buy into important contemporary fashions, with the curator often placing orders right after a fashion show, much like a retailer.
Saillard said the fund is allowing the museum to consolidate its collection and fill important holes in its contemporary collection.
“Thanks to Vogue’s initiative and its persuasive power, houses are really responding,” Saillard stressed, mentioning recent acquisitions such as a Raf Simons coat from his fall 2015 show, an outfit of the Japanese label cult label Anrealage from the same season, or a dress donated by Chanel from the spring 2015 couture show.
Saillard said the gala enriches the museum’s acquisition budget by a large margin. By comparison, the institution gets about 40,000 euros, or $44,425, annually from the city.
Saillard insisted it’s better to “have patrons support us to buy pieces such as beautiful Madame Grès dresses than sponsoring exhibits.”
Alt hinted at the rollout of the event, which will begin with a cocktail where guests will be able to look at the display’s newly acquired items, followed by a dinner.
“This year, there will be a performance by Les Twins, Beyoncé’s dancers during the dinner and a DJ set later in the evening. It will be outdoor. Hopefully, it will be this perfect Parisian summer night.”
Saillard said it’s “on a more intimate scale” and more low-key than other museums elsewhere. “We are really small compared to, say, the Met Ball for the Costume Institute in New York. Once we have reached the capacity in the courtyard, we cannot accommodate an extra person. Both Emmanuelle and I feel strongly to keep it relaxed.” Around 260 persons are expected at the dinner.