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  • © Vincent Lappartient

  • © Vincent Lappartient

  • © Vincent Lappartient

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“Eternity Dress” performance by Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard

Musée Galliera director and fashion curator Olivier Saillard and actress Tilda Swinton recently collaborated in a fashion performance act that was presented at the Festival d’automne in Paris with great success. The “Eternity Dress” performance paid homage to the creative process of dressmaking, demonstrating that at times the making process of a piece can be as interesting as the final result. This is not the first time that Tilda and Oliver team up; many of you may remember their first collaboration, entitled “The Impossible Wardrobe”, with Swinton interacting with a variety of archival garments from the Galliera’s collection and reinventing the format of the fashion catwalk. Saillard has been experimenting with performance art since 2005, in an attempt to re-contextualize clothes and comment on contemporary fashion shows, focusing on their overdose of stimuli and dubious content. Tilda, on the other hand, is the definition of the ultimate fashion muse, having starred in many fashion spreads and being the inspiration for numerous designers, among them Haider Ackermann and Viktor & Rolf.

During the “Eternity Dress” performance, which was held at the auditorium of the École des Beaux-arts of Paris between 20 and 24 of November, the spectators had the chance to follow closely the design of one single dress, from the measuring up and the creation of the pattern to the cut and the sewing together. Tilda Swinton was patiently measured and fitted in a slow ritual, being the seamstress and the model at the same time and practically sewing the final dress on her body. The performance included an entertaining sequence of collar trials as well as Tilda dramatically draping herself in chiffon and velvet. The climax of the event came with Tilda Swinton striking iconic poses of emblematic couturieres like Paul Poiret, Yves Saint Laurent, André Courrèges, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel or Comme des Garçons. “One of the things about Tilda is that she can do anything,” reported Saillard after the performance at style.com. “She’s not a ‘fashion girl,’ so she can be a sculpture, an actress, a woman, a man, she can be 18 or 75 years old. It was like we were in a bubble, and the experience gave us lots of new ideas. Fashion has to be surprising.” Amongst the enthusiastic crowd of the sold out event were designers Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Bouchra Jarrar, Martine Sitbon, Clare Waight Keller and Haider Ackermann, all completely taken by Swinton’s master class of elegance and passion. The intensive 50-minute performance, which was inspired by a 1950’s method found in Musée Galliera’s collections, was followed by a small cocktail party, celebrating the couture heritage of an unforgettable city.