The Bourdelle Museum in Paris explored this question in its latest exhibit. “Back Side / Fashion from Behind” delves into a side of fashion not always seen, but never forgotten.

The fashion industry is obsessed with faces, magazines are covered with them. Faces of supermodels, actors and actresses, designers and philanthropists. But do we stop to consider the back with the same vigor as we do the front?

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Photo credit: Lydia Brooks

The Bourdelle Museum created an exhibition highlighting designers that did just that. From flowing trains to sequined cowls, the pieces exhibited focus on the side of the body hidden from view.

But why the Bourdelle Museum? Who is Bourdelle?

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Bordelle Museum Dos a la Mode Exhibition Photo credit: Lydia Brooks

Imagine sculpted warriors, twice the size of a human, all standing guard in a grand hall. This is the Bourdelle Museum. Emile-Antoine Bourdelle lived in the late 1800s as an artist in France, exhibiting in all the major salons. The Bourdelle Museum exhibited “Back Side” to call attention to a new way of looking at Bourdelle’s statues, to appreciate the profound skill he used in sculpting even the backs of these giant sculptures.

Back Side exhibit featured name designers like Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier alongside less-known designers like Rick Owens and Martine Sitbon.

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Photo credit: Lydia Brooks

This Rick Owens piece caught my eye as soon as I turned the corner. His inspiration for this piece was the women supporting women’s movement. He wanted to create an ensemble where two women physically had each other’s back.

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Photo credit: Lydia Brooks

This piece by Thierry Mugler was part of the ethereal section in the exhibit. It explored the idea of wings on the backs of angels and how religion influences fashion and design.

This exhibit had fine art and fashion, wings and women. The next time you’re looking for inspiration, you might stop to consider the back and the wonderful implications it can employ. Do you want to be an angel today? Maybe a powerful woman? The choice of “dos à la mode” is up to you.

Lydia Brooks

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