Upcoming Paris exhibition offers a stylish snapshot of France in the 1980s


The Musee Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris is paying tribute to the fashion, design and graphic art of France in the 1980s. Photo: AFP

Overshadowed in recent years by the 1990s and the Y2K years – two decades universally loved by younger generations – the 80s will be back in the spotlight in France.

Currently buoyed by popular television shows such as Stranger Things, the 80s will be firmly on the agenda at the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs (Oct 13, 2022, to April 16, 2023).

The Parisian museum plans to retrace the vibrancy and eclecticism of the decade, while touching on the decisive changes made in those years, through an exhibition with scenography created by the designer Adrien Rovero.

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The 80s in France saw the rise of a new generation of designers, with Olivier Gagnere, Elisabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti, Philippe Starck, Martin Szekely and more, all in a context conducive to freedom of expression, the exhibition's organisers explain.

Fashion, too, was freed from the usual style norms and conventions, with some designers even being elevated to the rank of "superstars", like Jean-Paul Gaultier or Thierry Mugler.

Advertising, graphic design and the audiovisual industry all flourished, driven by the likes of Jean-Paul Goude, Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Etienne Robial. And, from new wave music to post-punk and hip-hop, a new chapter in Parisian nightlife was played out in some of the French capital's legendary hotspots.

The exhibition, titled "Annees 80. Mode, design et graphisme en France" (The 1980s: Fashion, design and graphic design in France"), takes the election of President Francois Mitterrand in 1981 as its starting point.

It covers three broad themes – the new political and cultural era, the buzzing design scene, and the looks of the 80s – all themes that reflect a certain spirit of renewal and revival in many fields, including design, fashion, advertising, media and the audiovisual sector.

The decade's landmark events give pace to the exhibition, such as the launch of the country's Fete de la Musique (Make Music Day), the creation of the Institut Francais De La Mode fashion school, and the emergence of political marketing – right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Read more: How 'Stranger Things' is reviving nostalgia for 80s fashion

No less than 700 works will bear witness to the effervescence of a heady decade that certainly left its mark on history, including furniture, fashion looks, posters, photographs, record sleeves, fanzines, and various objects.

These hail from legendary designers of the 80s, from Francois Bauchet to Martine Bedin, Gagnere, Andree Putman, Starck and Szekely, as well as designers who revolutionised fashion during this decade, including Gaultier, Mugler, Westwood, Chantal Thomass, Rei Kawakubo, Azzedine Alaia and Martin Margiela. – AFP Relaxnews

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