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J’aime les Militaires! (I Love the Military)

Start Date 20 January 2007
End Date 13 May 2007
Venue Centre National du Costume de Scene
Location Moulins, France
Curator Olivier Renaudeau
Designer Michel Albertini
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

A nod to the first destination of the Villars barracks, a cavalry district built at the end of the reign of Louis XV, which became the site of the CNCS, this exhibition allows the discovery of the variety and originality of the costumes of scene of military inspiration, often very surprising.

Uniforms are fashionable today, but do we know that these strict and dazzling outfits have also crossed  the history of the performing arts  and that the multiple perceptions of the character of the soldier, from his relatively late appearance on the stage until do today reveal much about  the evolution of dramatic art  and its  political, social or philosophical implications?

The “military genre” has permeated all forms of spectacle, from the circus, directly resulting from the equestrian carousels of the cavalry regiments, to the café-concert, where the comic troop  and the  buffoon and patriotic ditty  with Polin, for example , were particularly illustrated. , through the opera (“L’Aiglon”, “Carmen”, “Wozzeck”, “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein”, “The Girl of the Regiment”, “Bolivar”), the ballet (“Spring in Vienna” , “La Valse”) and plays (“Le Café”, “Le Balcon”…).

From the dapper cockade representation to the warrior in latticework of our contemporary repertoire, this exhibition offers a journey through the codes of military costume and the realistic, caricatural, even dramatic interpretations that the performers have been able to give of it.

In all cases, the elegance, graphic intensity and the extreme diversity of warlike fashions have allowed the costumers to create outfits ranging from the most unbridled fantasy to the most austere rigor, in a subtle dialogue with the regulations that govern true military clothing.

The scenographic aspect of the exhibition

To question the place of the military in the scenic repertoire is also to ask the question of the relationship to History maintained by these creations or the staging that renew and update them. The chronicle of the performing arts is not only written through works, it is also embodied in places, in theaters where key moments in this artistic history have taken place, even in capital history.

Each of the showcases of the exhibition is dedicated to a theater that marked a stage in scenic history: we thus evoke the Châtelet at the time of the great “military dramas” for which it was built, the Odeon, Place of creation of the Paravents of Jean Genet and headquarters of the protest against authority in 1968, the Opéra-Comique and Carmen …

Are presented: a hundred costumes, models, accessories illustrating trades related to the manufacture of military costumes, posters, photos, sculptures …

Images courtesy of National du Costume de Scene, Moulins, France