3 Min Lesezeit
Lacoste couture polo dress by Freaky Debbie
Photographe: David Hugonot Petit, Conception graphique: Aguettaz & Tourneux
Miss Lenglen, tennis player at Wimbledon, 26 June 1924
Glass negative Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Estampes et de la photographie
© BnF
Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, Jacket, top and shorts; Ready-to-wear Spring – Summer 2022
France. Viscose. Paris, Dior Héritage collection
© Ludwig Bonnet

Sneakers with a suit? In sweatpants to the opera? Karl Lagerfeld, for one, thought little of even walking down the street in sweatpants. Nevertheless, fashion and sport have long been linked in a way that is as inspiring as it is exciting. Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli were some of the pioneers of interwar fashion design who drew inspiration from the world of sport and turned sportswear into fashion. The growing importance of comfortable and functional clothing also explains why tracksuits and trainers are now ubiquitous on the streets and on the catwalk, from Balenciaga to Off-White.

With a view to the 2024 Olympic Games in the French capital, the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris is presenting the exhibition „Mode et Sport, d’un podium à l’autre“ from 20 September to 7 April 2024. From antiquity to the present, the exhibition will highlight the common social concerns as well as the focus on the body – in two only seemingly unrelated worlds. 450 garments, accessories, photographs, sketches, magazines, posters, paintings, sculptures and videos will illustrate the evolution of sportswear and its influence on contemporary fashion. The exhibition was curated by Sophie Lemahieu, head of the museum’s fashion and textile collections. The colourful exhibition design is by BGC Studio.

Except for a few thematic inserts, the show is structured chronologically. A circular room introduces the ancient world, when sport was still associated with nudity. Tournaments serve as an example for the Middle Ages, the “Jeu de Paume” stands for the early modern era. It becomes clear that the white clothing still associated with tennis today has its roots in this game. Activities of the nobility such as hunting, archery or fencing gave rise to new clothing full of sophistication long before sportswear became synonymous with comfort. Benefits of physical activity for health are addressed through gymnastics, as well as team sports and the introduction of jerseys, rugby shirts or sports-specific footwear with cleats or spikes. Bathing and swimming have also shaped and changed attitudes to clothing – from the swimming costumes of the late 19th century that covered most of the body to the acceptance of figure-hugging cuts and innovations such as the “Speedo bodysuit”. Disciplines such as mountaineering, skating and skiing made trousers an acceptable garment for women as well; surfing and skateboarding became associated with specific clothing styles that were quickly picked up by the luxury fashion industry. The series of sports and matching fashion could be continued for a long time. The numerous roles of colours and logos in fashion, from the blue outfits of French sports teams to the use of neon colours, are considered in the show as well as the connections of many fashion designers to sport or to prominent athletes; not to forget their own, not infrequently daring outfits and the growing number of collaborations between major sportswear brands and fashion designers.

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More Articles on the topic of design as well as current exhibitions.

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