Paris Fashion, Creative Costume and Imaginative Impersonation
Often there is a theme that seems to run through our days in Paris, “par hazard” — ‘by chance’ without a plan. This weekend was such a themed series of events…a story of fashion, costume and impersonation, if you will.
A friend invited me to join her and her granddaughter to see the Mugler Follies. “Mugler” — as in “Manfred Thierry Mugler” — the French fashion designer, creator of perfumes and now producer of spectacles. This is a guy who began to draw at an early age, studied ballet at the age of nine and joined the Rhin Opera corps at 14. At the same time, he began interior design training and by the age of 24 he was living in Paris and designing for large ready-to-wear houses soon to become an internationally recognized designer.
His talent didn’t stop there. In 1988 Mugler published his own photography book, directed short films and designed costumes for the Comédie Française and Cirque du Soleil. Then in 2010, his creative drive led him to begin working on himself, transforming his own face, body and genitals and changing his name to Manfred T. Mugler.
This past December, Mugler launched his own “follies” here in Paris. I had no idea about it, nor any idea what to expect. The performance at Le Comedia, a theater to which I had never been, is set up much like the Lido or Moulin Rouge, guests seated at tables lit softly by little lamps. The performance started off slowly with an uninteresting singing performance that was less than impressive, but that was the last moment of boredom. In fact, we think it was placed there just to ‘fake out’ the audience for what was really to come.
Mugler’s masterpiece is not to be missed. This is an artist who clearly thinks well outside the proverbial box with an unstoppable imagination and fabulous sense of humor. First off, the costumes will blow your mind. While there are plenty of feathers and sequins, these are not of the Lido or Moulin Rouge variety, but of the Mugler variety — bold, sexy, inventive, risky, clever, beautiful, etc., etc., etc. Secondly, the performances are top notch — a mixture of circus acts, cabaret, dance, singing and theater, there is not one moment in which you will not be smiling and thinking “I hope this never ends.”
Not to give away too much, but my favorites could have been the Italian opera singer dressed in a costume to blend in with the curtain on stage, Alotta Boutté, a LARGE Black singer dressed to show off ‘all her stuff’ who can out sing the best R&B of the bunch and the armor clad “Kraffit,” ‘defeater of darkness’ with whips instead of hands! Wait till you get a gander of the shoes! In fact, one might not call them “shoes” — but more like “stilts” made of glitter!
Enough! I won’t tell you more. Just go see it for yourself. Visit the Web site and DO have as much fun as what it seems Mugler had creating the show!
In keeping with the theme of fashion, costume and impersonation, Saturday night three girlfriends gave a costume party for four hundred of ‘their closest friends’ at Ile de Monsieur in the Parc Nautique. Again, I had no idea about it, nor any idea what to expect. Even the taxi driver had a hard time finding it, but once we located the parking lot, we were able to wander down a long path to discover a beautiful glass structure in a park on the Seine that was the perfect venue for such an event.
If I had seen the Mugler Follies before planning my costume, it might have ended up differently, but opted for wearing an authentic kimono in full dress as a Geisha Girl. It wasn’t bad as costumes go, but it didn’t hold a candle to the sequined mini-dresses three ‘drag queens’ wore, made even taller by their own ‘stilts’ and in which they performed Tina Turner style. The drag queens were none other than friends who by day have very different lives.
No one was NOT in costume — it was the rule of the party and the ability to enter. Some people were recognizable, others not, particularly the Blue Man who was head to toe in a blue body suit with not one centimeter of skin exposed, including his face. He must have loved being so anonymous!
A great time was had by all under the glass roof. The champagne flowed to the point that by 1 a.m. when our taxi returned to retrieve us, I was ‘happy’ to be headed home where all I could manage was strip off the kimono and wig and crawl into bed. On the way, we noticed the Eiffel Tower was in total darkness — it seemed so odd to be just a shadow as a backdrop to the Seine.
As it turns out, it wasn’t the only landmark to go dark for “Earth Hour.” Across the planet, others along with the Eiffel Tower, powered down for one hour on Saturday, for the 4th edition of the annual event to call attention to global climate change. It was as if the Eiffel Tower was also in disguise!
Then, again, fashion, costume and impersonation struck home at the “Papier Glacé” exhibition at the Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion Sunday afternoon.
“Elegance and seduction, excellence and artistic sense make the spirit of Condé Nast. For a century, the publishing conglomerate – editor of magazines Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour or W — plays a role in determining the field of the fashion photography.” For a look at some of the finest examples of fashion photography from the early 1918 to now, don’t miss the exhibition organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, of about 150 original prints, on till May 25th.
Photographers such as Baron Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, Erwin Blumenfeld and Irving Penn are represented, as well as Guy Bourdin, William Klein, David Bailey, Helmut Newton, Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Steven Meisel, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Miles Aldridge and others. I ran to see the exhibit and among them spotted on image I once owned and cherished. It brought tears to my eyes as I miss it like one might miss an old friend.
Off theme, this morning we all awoke to the news of the French municipal election results. Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo may have secured her post as the next “La Maire de Paris” (54.5% of the votes), but the right took France by storm. Not only did the National Front show an extraordinarily strong win by taking 11 towns including the 7th district of France’s second largest city, Marseille, and more than 1,200 municipal council seats nationwide, the right UMP Party made a strong showing in cities such as Toulouse, Angers and Limoges — clearly an anti-Hollande vote to bring back the balance of power and ideas. President François Hollande has no choice but to reshuffle his cabinet and come to terms with the clear public message — the need for more social justice and job creation. “This is the price of the brave reforms that have been undertaken,” Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said of pension reforms and tax hikes brought in by Hollande in a bid to narrow France’s public deficit. “We cannot, and we shall not, remain deaf to the message the French have sent us.”
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
P.S. If you love the South of France, be sure to tune in to our newest HGTV House Hunters International episode “Nice to Be Back in France” on April 15 at 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. E/P. When they decide to move to France, city girl Lori Ann wants the familiarity of urban life at any cost in pricy central Nice, but her husband Bill, who lived in Paris for 10 years, is dreaming of the countryside. Watch as we try to combine these two dreams in Nice, France.
AND for those of you who wish to participate in one of our House Hunters International, we’re filming again mid-May and are seeking apartments in which we can film that are on the west side of Paris (15th and 16th arrondissements) with one to two bedrooms (furnished or unfurnished) that would rent for approximately 2250€ per month. Parking in the building or nearby is essential to the story. If you have such a property and are willing to let us film there, please email me at [email protected].
If you would like to ‘STAR‘ in your own episode, and recently rented or purchased an apartment or home in Paris or anywhere in France, are under the age of 60 and don’t mind earning a nice fee ($1,500), please email me at [email protected]!
P.P.S. While you’re in Paris, also don’t miss seeing Jim Haynes’ “Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut,” coming to Paris for 11 performances only from April 17-26, 2014 from a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe. The play is a lovingly disrespectful homage to the classic film, with a “superb multi-tasking cast” whisking you back to Morocco 1941. Théâtre Déjazet, 41, boulevard du Temple, 75003 Paris, Métro: République. Tickets 25€ and 30€, Group bookings 20€, Students 18€. For dates and times visit dejazet.com. Bookings call 01.48.87.52.5501.48.87.52.55.