French fashion curator Olivier Saillard is revolutionary–not because he is radical, but because he is traditional in his beliefs. Following this year’s inauguration of the Musée Galliera’s new Vogue Paris Fund, an Alaïa retrospective, and an exhibition of ’50s couture, Saillard now unveils “Cloakroom-Vestiaire Obligatoire” (“Cloakroom Required”). This weeklong performance exhibition is the third instalment of Saillard’s theatrical partnership with Tilda Swinton, a collaboration that has previously been considered the holy grail of fashion performance.
Beginning in 2012, the series has since become an annual highlight of the Parisian cultural program, Festival d’Automne. Saillard’s two previous chapters–”The Impossible Wardrobe” and “The Eternity Dress”–revealed intimate, bare-bones performance pieces that celebrated and questioned clothing in both a contemporary and historical context.
While “The Impossible Wardrobe” and “The Eternity Dress” celebrated museum codes, dressmaking processes, and the iconic gestures of high fashion, “Cloakroom–Vestiaire Obligatoire” brings a new element to the table: audience participation.
As the name suggests, guests are encouraged to check their coats, bags, and scarves upon arrival, and from this collection, a small assortment is chosen and becomes an integral tool throughout the hour-long show. Swinton ensures a unique performance each night, as she explores the often ordinary silhouettes of her spectators’ clothing and accessories with reverent curiosity. By the end of the eight-night program, Swinton will have been up close and personal with over 300 garments.
“It is about how one day our own clothing will be granted meaning in a museum context, purely because it is ours,” Saillard says. “That counts a lot in a fashion museum–it is not just about the brand [or] the physical construction of a garment that counts, but the duality that exists within them.”
The Musée Galliera also commissioned British photographer Katerina Jebb to immortalize these exclusive performances, which she is doing through her own photographic observations and by planting video surveillance cameras throughout the museum to record the nightly happenings. In December, the collected footage will debut as an art film.
“Tilda’s beauty and sheer physicality captivate and place the spectator in a trance-like state,” Jebb explains. “She undulates around a table falling in and out of consciousness.”
“CLOAKROOM–VESTIARIRE OBLIGATOIRE” RUNS THROUGH NOVEMBER 29 AT THE MUSÉE GALLIERA IN PARIS. FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE FESTIVAL’S WEBSITE.