Carine Roitfeld Curates Her First Fashion Exhibition

Share

HONG KONG — In what must be a sign of the times, the debut fashion exhibition by the celebrity editor Carine Roitfeld was curated in France, is to open with an online gala and to be displayed at a luxury shopping mall and cultural center on Hong Kong’s neon-lit harborfront.

On Friday, Ms. Roitfeld’s celebration at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris is to be connected by live feed to the party at the K11 Musea mall that its owner, Adrian Cheng, has planned.

Their collaboration, “Savoir-Faire: The Mastery of Craft in Fashion,” scheduled to open Monday, is to showcase about 30 examples of contemporary fashion design, depending on the arrival of shipments; 12 Chinese artifacts; and a multimedia display of craftsmanship techniques. (Through Feb. 14; tickets starting at 60 Hong Kong dollars, or $7.70.)

“This exhibition is not a history lesson, but a showcase of savoir-faire in its many forms,” Ms. Roitfeld, founder of CR Fashion Book and former editor in chief of Vogue Paris, said in a video interview from the French capital.

She noted that she wanted to avoid the kind of fashion retrospective that European legacy brands generally create. “I did not choose the most extraordinary pieces but pieces that, when you look at them, will make you understand the savoir-faire,” Ms. Roitfeld said. “Curating an exhibition is a first from me. But I am curating it the same as I would a fashion shoot or editorial. I cannot change myself.”

Among her choices was a wedding gown from Chanel’s couture fall 2017 collection, with rough-edged rosettes anchoring the veil, the sleeves and the hem of a voluminous, high-waist skirt. Another was a minidress, with sequined pastel fringe hand-sewn onto the bodice, from Dior’s couture spring 2019 collection. Balenciaga, Givenchy, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford and Valentino also will be represented.

“I want people to feel that they are a part of the exhibit, a part of the dream,” Ms. Roitfeld said. “When you are watching runway, you don’t feel the details. But in this exhibit, you will feel the embroidery, the way fabric drapes on the back of a dress. I want to show the audience what is behind the scenes, like they are at a photo shoot.”

Her selection also included independent designers in their 30s and 40s such as Iris Van Herpen from the Netherlands, Tom Van Der Borght from Belgium and Richard Quinn from Britain, whose fall 2020 ready-to-wear show was styled by Ms. Roitfeld.

“Savoir-faire is not just for couture — it’s for prêt-à-porter, too. This is a new idea I wanted to express in this exhibition,” she said. “It is imperative that it conveys the message that savoir-faire is alive and well. It is still celebrated, even by younger fashion houses. It is not dead.”

Ms. Roitfeld had particular praise for Ms. Van Herpen, whom she called “one of the best in the world for use of silicone and laser-cutting techniques,” displayed in see-through Swarovski crystal dresses and futuristic 3-D silhouettes.

“She always surprises me,” Ms. Roitfeld said. “She launched her couture label at the age of 23. That takes grit and determination.”

“Savoir-Faire” is a continuation of Ms. Roitfeld’s collaboration with Mr. Cheng, who is chief executive of the Hong Kong property company New World Development and founder of the K11 brand. Earlier this year they co-produced a three-part video series called “K11 Original Masters,” which explored craft techniques like sewing feathers and quilting leather bags.

“We realized that savoir-faire was the common link between European fashion and Chinese artisans,” she said. “The works are beautiful, special, powerful — and some with important messages.”

Mr. Cheng’s contribution to the exhibition will be the loan of a dozen Chinese artifacts from the K11 Craft & Guild Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded to preserve the skills used to create items like Cantonese ceramics. In the exhibition, multimedia displays will juxtapose the Asian techniques used to create the pieces with those used in European couture.

For Mr. Cheng, it was important that the exhibition was what he called a “fusion of Europe and Asia” that paid tribute to the history of craftsmanship.

“We can create these connections and rapport via objects that may look different, but involve the same shared passion,” he said. “For example, the way that French couturiers used feathers was inspired by the Qing dynasty.”

He said he also hoped to introduce the idea of craftsmanship to younger audiences, who often come to the seven-level mall on weekends.

“Everything today is fast and about instant gratification,” Mr. Cheng said. “But craft is meditative and methodical. It symbolizes persistence, patience and perseverance.

“It is all done by human hand, and that’s the beauty of it.”

Source