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Museum combines paintings with fashion

Paintings and fashion might seem unlikely bedfellows - the first are created to last while the second is temporary by its very nature. But an exhibition in Lausanne breaks down barriers to cohabitation between the two.

Paintings and fashion might seem unlikely bedfellows - the first are created to last while the second is temporary by its very nature. But an exhibition in Lausanne breaks down barriers to cohabitation between the two.

"Fashions and Paintings" at the city’s Fine Arts Museum covers a period from the 18th century to the 1920s. Portraits from the museum’s permanent collection look across at clothing similar to that worn by the sitters in the paintings.

One of the challenges was to find costumes that would match the paintings rather than duplicate what was in them. Portraits are often half-length, so by having the costumes next to them visitors see what is missing in the painting.

Elisabeth Fischer, who is one of the organisers, says she is particularly pleased with the way the exhibition cuts through a barrier often perceived between the fine arts and decorative arts: "Fashion is usually at the bottom of the ladder because of its reputation for constant change. This exhibition shows how the two can co-mingle."

Some of the painters whose portraits are on display actually worked for fashion houses and were themselves interested in textiles.

One costume in particular, a woman’s summer dress from the 1920s, illustrates that like art, fashion can have a timelessness of its own. Says Fischer: "It shows how fashion can produce a beautiful garment that nearly a century later you can still be happy to wear, just as you will still look at a good painting."

The exhibition ends on June 25.

by Richard Dawson








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