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Déshabillez-moi ! Les Costumes de la Pop et de la Chanson (Undress Me! The Costumes of Pop and Song)

Start Date 15 October 2016
End Date 05 March 2017
Venue Centre National du Costume de Scene
Location Moulins, France
Curator Delphine Pinasa and Stephane Malfettes
Designer Bernard Connan
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

The CNCS exposes 100 years of song through its most emblematic costumes: from Mistinguett’s rhinestone dresses to Renaud’s black leather jacket and bandana, costumes designed by Jean-Denis Malclès for the Jacques Brothers, to Johnny’s black outfits Hallyday, Edith Piaf, Barbara and Alain Bashung, from the little Carven dresses sung and worn by Jacqueline François to the banana belt of Joséphine Baker through the golden outfits of Etienne Daho or Brigitte to couture creations signed On will have seen it all, Jean Paul Gaultier, Frank Sorbier for French and international pop artists.

“The costume is first and foremost a conquest. That of visibility. To come out of the shadows and appear in the limelight, Music Hall stars, yéyé idols, disco celebrities, variety legends, rock’n’roll heroes, rap stars , the popes of electro don outfits which, at first glance, distinguish them from ordinary people. More or less spectacular, their scenic metamorphoses seek to make the music visible, to give it an image and a body. Far from being secondary, appearance is thus a constitutive element of musical expression, a link between the public and the artist. The costume reveals what founds popular music: music that is much more than music. Made by all and for all, popular music is in direct contact with our lives; they embrace all of its components and contradictions. They are both juvenile and intergenerational. Immediate and timeless. Conformists and rebels. Traditionalists and innovative… Protean and adjustable as desired, the musicians’ costume perfectly embodies all these opposing impulses. If this exhibition is entitled “Undress me!” »This is because his ambition is to strip the costume. Orphans of their owners, the costumes of pop and song are delivered to us in their magnetic solitude and their very real materiality.»  Stéphane MALFETTES, director of the auditorium of the Louvre museum and curator of the exhibition

As soon as they enter the exhibition, the visitor is immersed in the world of music and song through the presentation of fan collections (concert posters, dedications, souvenir items gleaned during a concert, etc.) and cult objects belonging to “popular mythologies” (banana belt by Joséphine Baker, boater by Maurice Chevalier, bandana by Renaud, etc.). Then, through a rich itinerary with 13 thematic rooms, it passes from the world of the music hall (Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier, Les Frères Jacques…) to that of the operetta (Luis Mariano, Paulette Merval, Georges Guétary…). A room is also devoted to “pop Couture” with the creations of Jean-Paul Gaultier for Madonna or the collaborations and capsule collections launched by Rihanna, Kanye West or Pharrell Williams. Black outfits are also very popular with artists with the dresses of Edif Piaf and Barbara or the generation of black jackets. Mirroring this showcase, “The golden legends” sparkle with all their brilliance thanks to the costumes with gold reflections by Etienne Daho, Brigitte or even Maître Gims. The tour ends with a room entirely dedicated to a major artist of the current French scene: Matthieu Chédid and his exuberant double on stage -M-! A sort of extroverted superhero, whose explosive hairstyle, customized glasses and multicolored costumes are immediately recognizable. French song and pop belong to a specific category of the performing arts. Combining specificities of the scene and aesthetic choices, the singer-musician’s costume fully participates in the development of his character, sometimes becoming synonymous with his identity and his identification with the public, in some cases going as far as becoming a mythical or even fetishistic object. After contemporary dance, circus, opera… The National Center for Stage Costume explores another form of live performance to show the relationship between singing artists and their costumes and images and the reciprocal influence between fashion and music. This form of live performance is present in the background of the CNCS, in particular with the donation of a set of dresses worn by the singer Jacqueline François (1922-2009). This singer who from 1945 to 1965 embodied the French song with chic and elegance, dressed, in the city as on the stage, at Carven.

Images courtesy of Centre National du Costume de Scene. Photo © Florent-Giffard