As Paris prepares to host the 2024 Olympics, backed by a €150 million sponsorship from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, it’s no surprise that some of the French capital’s museums are exploring the growing intersection of fashion and sport.
“La Mode En Mouvement” (Fashion and Sport) will open at the Palais Galliera in June and is expected to run until September 7, 2025. “Mode et Sport: D’un Podium à L’Autre” (Fashion and Sport: From Podium to Podium) was unveiled last week at the Museum of Decorative Arts and will run until April 7.
“Fashion and sport are closely linked, as both can play a huge role in shaping our sense of self,” said Sophie Lemahieu, head of the Fashion and Textiles Collection at the Museum of Decorative Arts and curator of the “Fashion and Sport” exhibition. “Both worlds share a special focus on the shaping and honing of the body, and a shared obsession with physical perfection.”
The program is arranged chronologically, with the first section exploring how athletes competed naked at the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece, and how competitors and spectators became engrossed in the ideal of the (male) human form. Another area looks at the evolution of sportswear in the 19th century, when clothing specifically designed for certain pursuits became more common in individual and team sports, both for men and women, although not ignoring the fashion trends of the time, such as Corset and bustle.
But the main focus of the exhibition is how sportswear became a staple of 20th-century wardrobes and how this reflected changing lifestyles and the desire for healthy, luxurious living. In recent years, the fusion of fashion and sport has created a powerful new contemporary consumer culture, from the booming sneaker and athleisure wear markets to performance apparel on the runways of Fashion Week, team uniforms designed by luxury brands and the use of sportswear. Celebrities and athletes serve as brand ambassadors.
Fashion pioneers of the interwar period, such as Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, all found inspiration in movement to create their own women’s collections, with shapes designed primarily for lithe, youthful figures. Athletes-turned-fashion entrepreneurs such as René Lacoste (tennis), Emilio Pucci (skiing) and Ottavio Missoni (track and field) use their athletic experience to shape the aesthetics and materials of the products they sell and design team uniforms to incorporate key products Their fashion. By the 1980s, thanks to the popularity of aerobics and bodybuilding and the growing influence of street culture, tracksuits, lycra clothing and sneakers became the cornerstones of millions of contemporary wardrobes and were essential to building a fit and toned body. Worship reached new heights.
Today, the demand for activewear is greater than ever, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has reshaped attitudes towards clothing for millions of people around the world.
“Most consumers now want to be comfortable and refuse to compromise on that,” Ms. Lemahieu said (although there are some lingering exceptions, such as stiletto heels). “This is a huge change compared to most clothing throughout history, especially for women, and a lot of it is driven by the way sports and physical culture have influenced modern fashion design.”
The centerpiece of the exhibition space is a converted runway with golden rings suspended from it in homage to the Olympics. Nearby photos show some of the sports stars who have particularly inspired the fashion designer, including French soccer coach and former midfielder Zinedine Zidane for Dior and Japanese tennis star Osaka for Louis Vuitton Naomi Osaka, the runway was also dotted with mannequins displaying famous movements – inspired by the catwalks of designers including Maria Grazia Chiuri and John Galliano for Dior, Issey Miyake and Alexander McQueen.
Ms Lemahieu said fashion and sport today share a common global language that allows for instant communication, are prime vehicles for live entertainment and are powerful shapers of self-identity that anyone can adopt. As the two worlds continue to collaborate and collide, we should expect their combined power to grow, she added.
“People find so much inspiration and sense of community in sports heroes and fashion brands – more so than in most other industries,” she said. “This exhibition shows that these two worlds have much more in common than many people imagine.”