Models
Never Talk
 
Text
Martin Bethenod
Director of Palazzo Grassi —<br>Punta della Dogana
Models Never Talk is a performance created in 2014 by Olivier Saillard, director of the Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, and presented at the Teatrino in January 2016. Its cast is composed of seven French supermodels from the 1980s and '90s, Christine Bergstrom, Axelle Doué, Charlotte Flossaut, Claudia Huidobro, Anne Rohart, Violeta Sanchez, and Amalia Vairelli, who describe and reenact wearing the clothes that they remember most vividly.
 
<br><br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>“On stage, the audience sees what usually takes place backstage, on the other side of the catwalk and podium. But the clothes are all gone. Fashion, here, is but ashes and memories: hands that fasten a belt that has vanished, that lace a corset that has dissolved; arms cloaking themselves in an absent coat, draping themselves in a shawl of smoke. They evoke a body that was once imprisoned by clothes. Speech, which is usually banned from the runway, serves as clothing here.<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Speech embodies velvet and muslin. The gestures that accompany speech serve as prints and motifs. In the absence of artifice, a story emerges: that of the movement of a model, produced by the gaze of the designer or photographer that she inspires.”<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>This is how Olivier Saillard describes the performance <i>Models Never Talk</i>, created in New York in 2014, then presented at the Centre National de la Danse in Pantin as part of the Festival d’Automne 2015. It was performed again on two occasions at the Teatrino in January 2016, in a restaging devised specifically for its new Venetian setting. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Since the mid 1990s, Olivier Saillard has used art history, conservation, museum directing, curating, art criticism, and performance, to broaden and refresh our perspective on fashion as an artistic, social, and conceptual object. He has endeavored to show fashion not only as a group of clothes, but also as gestures, words, and systems. To do so, he has relied on a variety of different methods: by focusing closely on a single subject, through exhibitions devoted to a single collection, by Yves Saint Laurent, for instance (the 1971 collection, presented at the Fondation Bergé-Saint Laurent), or Comme des Garçons (the 2012 Spring collection, displayed by the Musée Galliera at Docks en Seine); the thematic approach (the exhibition “Couturier Superstar” at the Arts Décoratifs); or a more surprising lens on a familiar subject (Cristobal Balenciaga, examined not through the clothes he created but those he collected); or by decontextualizing or re-contextualizing (showing Madame Grès gowns surrounded by the sculptures of the Musée Bourdelle, or Azzedine Alaïa outfits in the Matisse room of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris or the Borghese gallery).<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Together, these projects all contribute to expanding the world of fashion. To focusing our attention beyond the clothes themselves, on the ways in which they’re presented (in the fashion show, for instance, subject of his <i>Ideal History of Contemporary Fashion</i>, 2009), the ways in which they’re described and archived (lookbooks and videos, which he has added to the permanent collections of the Arts Décoratifs and the FNAC), and the ways in which fashion occupies physical and mental space (subject of the performance <i>Impossible Wardrobe</i>, presented at the Palais de Tokyo in 2012). <i>Models Never Talk</i> argues that the existence of an item of clothing is both material and immaterial, that fashion is both image and language. That while we may think of fashion in the context of pure immediacy, it contains a depth of memory.<br><br>
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
<i>Models never talk</i><br>A performance by Olivier Saillard, January 2016, Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi.
 

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