Women in the Orient

by - Saturday, May 07, 2011

Women in the Orient, wealth worn as part of the head adornment.
One of the most spectacular exhibitions of textiles we've ever seen. Women in the Orient is on display at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris until May 15. The exhibition consists of pieces from musée du quai Branly collections and the Widad Kamel Kawar collection, and is designed by Christian Lacroix who "conceived the route through the exhibition as a poetical perambulation. The garments form a motionless, hovering procession. They inhabit a colourful world where, bathed in warm and comforting light, the designer's imagination is projected into a dreamlike East."

Embroidery, individual and also marking the community.

Curated by Hana Chidiac, the collection shows an impressive range of texture and embroidery styles. Some of the garments are fantastic, as is one dress which has dimensions twice as large as the others. A short video clip of a woman putting on the dress serves as an explanation. The huge sleeves work as a headdress and the double body length is pulled up, folded over, and tied with a belt.

Neon signs for the exhibition.
Most of the pieces are from the early part of the last century and the exhibition can perhaps best be summed up by this description:

"As the political, economic and cultural crossroads between Asia, Europe and Africa, the Near East has been the cradle of rich civilisations that have left their marks on many different artistic fields, including art of clothes, still largely unknown to a wider public.

"The history of textile and embroidery extends over thousands of years, and can be seen not only asa way of dressing, but also as a language, and as social, geographical and religious markers."

Detail of garment - Women in the Orient

Detail of garment - Women in the Orient

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