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A return to the 80s that makes us feel good – Art that makes us feel good thanks to cultural outings and online conferences

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The new exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts offers us a vast dive into the French 80s through fashion, design and graphics, a journey at the turn of a new political and cultural era, design and fashion that are reinventing themselves and the birth of the image society.

The Museum of Decorative Arts offers us a vast dive into the French 80s through fashion, design and graphics, a journey at the turn of a new political and cultural era, design and fashion that are reinventing themselves and the birth of the image society.

The 80s: the beginning of a new era

View of the exhibition, “The President’s Designers”
François Mitterrand campaign poster

The exhibition opens with the campaign poster of François Mitterrand, elected President of the Republic in 1981: it was a historic election that brought the left to power for the first time in the Fifth Republic and marked a major turning point. political and cultural. His campaign poster “La force calme” by Jacques Ségala opens the new era of visual communication in politics. François Mitterrand undertook major works from his first seven years, wishing to reconcile culture and urbanity: the Musée d’Orsay, the City of Science and Industry in La Villette, the Institute of the Arab World – initiated by Valéry Giscard d’ Estaing – the Louvre pyramid, the Opéra Bastille, the Arche de la Défense and the National Library of France. These cultural places renew the Parisian urban fabric and energize culture. To promote contemporary creation, François Mitterrand mobilizes designers to decorate the private apartments of the Élysée: Marc Held, Ronald Cecil Sportes, Philippe Stark, Annie Tribel and Jean-Michel Wilmotte. A plurality of styles thus cohabit within the presidential apartments.

Posters of cultural events created under Jack Lang

Culture Minister Jack Lang gave cultural policy an unprecedented boost. Events are created: the National Poetry Grand Prize, the Music Festival, the Open Days of Historic Monuments, the Film Festival, the Fury of Reading… The ministry supports private and association initiatives in the field of photography, of design and fashion and reaches out to contemporary designers.

Club Med campaign
Posters by freelance designers

The 80s began the era of global visual communication. With the liberalization of the media and the audiovisual sector, the advertising film experienced its golden age and the advertising agencies conquered a new field of action: it was the beginning of show advertising. Advertising posters are renewed: drawing is abandoned for photography, concise and playful slogans are created to be remembered by potential buyers. During the 1980s, advertising held an essential place in pop culture. In parallel with advertising and marketing agencies, workshops of independent graphic designers – born in the wake of the May 68 revolts – claim public utility graphics: they address citizens when advertisers address consumers. Their sponsors are political parties, trade unions, institutions whose views they share. The government is favorable to graphic designers and the “Graphics and Typography” recovery plan aims to encourage public commissions and shows the State’s desire to consider graphic design as a discipline in its own right of the visual arts.

The joyous extravagance of design and fashion

The main nave of the museum offers us the spectacle of the multitude of creations and styles in terms of design and fashion: modernist designs rub shoulders with primitive universes, fashion codes are diverted and silhouettes revisited. The VIA, Promotion of Innovation in Furniture, created in 1979 by the Ministry of Industry, gives carte blanche to many young designers and promotes French design. It is no longer schools or currents that are put forward, but innovative individuals, such as Philippe Starck, Christian Lacroix or Jean-Paul Gaultier. Avant-garde places dedicated to contemporary creation are created in the dynamics of VIA, places that promote contemporary creators such as the Perkal or Néotù galleries.

Designs by Philippe Starck
Neotu Gallery
Jean-Paul Gaultier, suit for men
Jean-Paul Gaultier, costume for women, iconic conical breasts

The last part of the exhibition continues the journey through the fashion of the 80s, which is diversified thanks to various individual expressions. It was a period made up of antagonisms and great aesthetic differences: some designers took up historical silhouettes from Antiquity to the 1930s, such as Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana, when Vivienne Westwood or Chantal Thomas revisited and parodied them. Others, more radical, deconstruct the very notion of clothing, adorning their mannequins with pieces of broken ceramics or creating asymmetrical silhouettes. Fashion designers are now considered artists. The parades are exposed to a wide audience: from now on, they are no longer reserved for an elite of connoisseurs within the fashion houses, but take place in the most prestigious buildings of the capital and are even broadcast on television. Fashion became popular: the notion of “look” was born during this period and the industrial production of clothing intensified. By offering wide ranges for everyone, men, women, children, ready-to-wear is diversifying and allowing everyone to create their own “look”.

Martin Margiela, broken ceramic vest
Vivienne Westwood, twisted crinoline worn above the knee
fashion for all

Nights and counterculture: the party spirit of the 80s

The nightclubs Le Palace and les Bains Douches became high places for parties and Parisian eccentricity. Great creators meet there who forge together the eccentric culture specific to the 80s. Philippe Starck realizes the decorations of the Bains Douches, Gérard Garouste and David Rochline create the decorations of the Palace and the Privilege, its VIP area, Pierre and Gilles do the invitation card for the inauguration of the Bains Douches, Karl Lagerfeld, Claude Montana and Jean-Paul Gaultier organize big parties there. These mythical discotheques are the symbol of the decade. Incubators of new lifestyles, everyone can enter, only the look counts. Parallel to the splendor of Parisian nights, hip-hop from the United States is settling in underground circles.

Poster for a gay party at the Palace
Posters for the Bains Douches evenings

Talivera’s Fashion, Design and Graphics favorites

This exhibition showed the spirits and for good reason, in the room dedicated to Parisian nights and discotheques, the clips and songs that marked the era are broadcast: the Rita Mitsouko and Alain Bashung will make you want to go dancing in the 80s. Crossing the room dedicated to design, Talivera saw a sublime little pink bag: exhibited by the Yves Gastou gallery, it is the work of architect Shiro Kuramata. Yves Gastou had asked several architects to design handbag prototypes, “small nomadic architectures”: this one caught our eye.

Clip of Marcia Baila of the Rita Mitsouko. Dress designed by Jean-Paul Gautier.
Shiro Kuramata, Copacabana handbagYves Gastou Gallery

The exhibition “80s: fashion, design and graphics in France” is on view at the Museum of Decorative Arts until April 16, 2023, and Talivera will accompany you there with guided tours or online conferences.

Cleo Ragasol-Barbey

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