The new Maison Chloé celebrates the fashion house’s legacy of storytelling, beginning with the iconic Chloé Alphabet. On the first floor, a small exhibition room brings together some of those inspirations – for instance, “C” for cheval (meaning “horse”), and “B” for banane (“banana”). Underlying all of the Chloé collections is a sense of whimsy, if not full-frontal surrealism – a mood that sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition, which focuses on Guy Bourdin’s photographs for the fashion house.
For as long as fashion photography has been an art, Bourdin’s photos have been so widely disseminated, and so often imitated, that walking through the exhibition feels like déjà vu. We’ve seen all of it already. But the original maquettes of his Chloé lookbooks and magazine spreads, juxtaposed with the original Chloé pieces, give us a tangible sense of the ideological and formal sources of his photography. For example, the verticality of book or magazine spines – a motif Bourdin used habitually in his compositions, providing both visual and conceptual play. (See the far right image below, in which a woman’s legs open “like a book.”)
And in the foyer of the classic Haussman building, an emerging artist has been included in the Chloé legacy. Curated by Chloé’s current creative director Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Marion Verboom’s quiet art installation, titled Achronies, is tucked just behind the main lobby. Appropriately, Verboom’s Brancusi-esque sculptures – in chunks both abstract and figurative – echo the Dadaist spontaneity of Chloé.
“…What should I do?
Did you kiss him on the mouth?
Yes. Then he gave me a brooch.
Then try to be with him.”
– J, Jewelry, from Archivist Issue 3