Mariano Fortuny’s name may not really resound to younger generations, but the influence and oeuvre of this early 20th century visionary has long been tangible in artistic circles and for fashion designers.
'Fortuny: A Spaniard in Venice’, an exhibition currently at the Palais Galliera in Paris, is bound to change that for the better.
Palais Galliera, the city of Paris’ fashion museum, stages the exhibition as the final part of their Spanish Season.
Now under the directorship of the renowned fashion curator Olivier Saillard, the Palais Galliera has established itself as a truly knowledgeable institution.
Fortuny, a lighting engineer, architect, inventor and set designer, is known most widely for his fashion design.
The Spanish-born artist spent his childhood in both Paris and Venice, where he was introduced to painting as well as textiles.
In the 1920’s it was his contribution to theatre that gained him recognition for his indirect lighting technique for the stage.
In fashion, it’s Fortuny’s still-secret technique for pleating that really put him on the map.
Inspired by the light, by ancient Greek clothing and the natural curves of a woman’s body, Fortuny went about creating his legendary Delphos gown. Hand-pleated using a method that involves heat, pressure and ceramic rods, the design also makes use of glass Murano beads strung on silk cords alongside each seam. Thanks to this, the lightweight silk used for the chiton-influenced design stayed close to the body and enhanced the female form underneath with no need for a corset – thus liberating the female form with unwaisted pieces.
Quite incredibly, even today, these dresses hold their shape – the pleats are still preserved after decades. For this aesthetic and artistic quality, Fortuny’s garments have been greatly valued. One of Fortuny’s gowns was even sold in December 2001 for a record price of $10,000. Considered one of the major masters of fashion as art, Fortuny continues to inspire, for his classical influences made wearable, and for his inventive use of materials and his masterful play with the subtle reflections of light.
The Palais Galliera illustrates Fortuny’s oeuvre with gowns that were worn by legendary women like Countess Greffulhe and her daughter Élaine, Eleonora Duse, Ellen Terry, and Oona Chaplin.
From 4th November 2017 till 7th January 2018
Only a 20-minute stroll from La Réserve Hotel & Spa, there’s no excuse not to take a closer look at Fortuny’s Delphos gowns, Knossos scarves, and more in this exhibition that hones in on this prolific and inventive designer who honoured the timelessly elegant female form.