Paris show gives the humble back its place in the limelight - GulfToday

Paris show gives the humble back its place in the limelight

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Visitors are confronted by mannequins with their backs turned.

It does not usually make it into the spotlight but the humble back is always there, yet almost never seen in fashion images, forgotten amid the focus on the front and faces.

A new Paris exhibition, however, aims to redress this imbalance, exploring the relationship between fashion and this part of the body that is so rarely seen.

At the exhibition organised by the Palais Galliera fashion museum -- showing at the Bourdelle museum amid its famous collection of plaster statues -- visitors are confronted by mannequins with their backs turned.

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The exhibition is organised by the Palais Galliera fashion museum and is shown at the Bourdelle museum.

Social Class

At the end of the 15th century, lacing appeared on the backs of women of all social classes. Without the luxury of chambermaids, peasant women had to ask their brothers, fathers or husbands for help.

Hook-and-eye closure appeared in the 18th century, corsets arrived in the 19th century and closed in front, laced at the back.

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The back is absent in most fashion show pictures.

'Others see, we don't'

The plunging neckline came in the 20th century when French master fashion designer Paul Poiret freed women from their corsets.

But even then, freeing the back from the network of lacing and fastening carried connotations of prostitution.

A landmark moment came when Rita de Acosta Lydig, a high-flying American socialite, caused a scandal by showing off her bare back in a simple black dress at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the early years of the 20th century.

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Modern society is obsessed with people's faces while the back is more a reminder of our limitations.

Back Fashion Scandal

A more recent "back fashion scandal" occurred in June 2018, when US first lady Melania Trump visited a camp for undocumented immigrant children at the Mexican border. The words on the back of her parka sent a powerful message: "I really don't care, do you?"

This trend started in the 13th century and Catherine the Great of Russia set an ultimate record with a 14-metre train, carried by 12 valets, at her coronation in 1762.

The back is absent in most fashion show pictures. In one hallway of the museum, 3,607 Paris Fashion Week shots are displayed: none taken from the side, none from the back.

Agence France-Presse