Poetry and Spleen

The exhibition at Kumu, the Estonian modern art museum in Tallinn, displays Alexandre Vassiliev’s collection of the Victorian Female Image and Fashion.

A room full of headless mannequins stands quietly as if back in the time from where the clothes originated, creating the atmosphere of the epoch. Victorian era, in the 19th century, viewed as romantic and conservative, created a melancholic atmosphere already at its time, described as spleen by the poet Charles Baudelaire.
Fashion trends for women were rather movement-restrictive and voluminous, including corsets, metal underskirt frames and supporting crinolines. Come to think of it, while in 19th century it was underwear used to modify body to desired fashionable form, isn´t nowadays happening a similar thing, except instead of underwear it is the body itself that gets modified with the use of plastic surgery and implants.

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Alexandre Vassiliev is a well-known fashion historian, stage designer, collector and tireless fashion promoter of Russian origin. Born into the family of theater artists in the Soviet Russia, he discovered his passion for costume design early in his childhood. Starting to raid second hand markets for antiquities from the age of 15, his collection has by now grown to 50 000 pieces. His love of fashion brought Alexandre to Paris in his early adulthood, breaking through the Soviet “iron curtain” with a fictive marriage to a French exchange student. In Paris it took Alexandre a long time to establish himself as a scenographist, but his persistence paid off big time. Alexandre Vassiliev has created stage designs and costumes for several world-famous operas, ballets, plays and films, he has written about 40 books on the history of fashion, and he has produced documentaries, given lectures and worked on a number of fashion-related projects. He also hosts a popular style show on the Russian TV channel Ostankino.

The exhibition is open till 30th October 2016.

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