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La Veste

Couture: Alliance Française de Singapour Showcases the Artistic and Nuanced History of French Designer Jackets


Journey Through the Evolution of Men's Fashion, Unveiling the Cultural Significance of Every Stitch


Educational and cultural organisation, Alliance Française de Singapour presents "La Veste," a sophisticated exhibition – and part of the French Excellence programme, Couture – showcasing the artistry of the male blazer by renowned France-based andinspired fashion houses such as Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and more.

Running from 17 January to 16 March 2024, this exhibition of law professor and fashion

photographer David Tan’s collection, curated by Singapore’s renowned international fashion consultant Leonard Choo, offers a captivating exploration into the evolution of masculine fashion throughout French history. Curated under the discerning eye of Choo, Director of Industry Development at the Singapore Fashion Council, the exhibition features 42 meticulously selected men's blazers from Tan’s private trove. The curation on exhibit delves into the nuanced influence of masculinity on French culture, from the conception of beauty to the craftsmanship of garments. La Veste serves as a contemplative journey into the enduring allure of the men's suit, shedding light on its pivotal role in defining and redefining style, status, and self-expression as well as sparking the question of “Is this fashionable menswear a mere sensuous distraction, or does it hold deeper cultural significance?”.

Fabian Forni, Executive Director of Alliance Française de Singapour, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "As we unveil La Veste, an exhibition that delves into the intricate artistry of French-designed jackets, we encourage everyone to discover the cultural tapestry woven through these fashion pieces—a narrative that goes beyond style, encapsulating the innovation, craftsmanship, and timeless elegance that defines the essence of La Veste. As the saying goes, ‘Tell me what you wear, and I’ll tell you who you are!’ This sentiment resonates under La Veste, where each jacket tells a unique story”


Organised into four thematic sections—Military, Ornamentation & Decoration, Art and Deconstruction/Reconstruction—the jackets, or "vestes" in French, are grouped to guide visitors on a fashion journey through these various inspirations. The concept driving the exhibition revolves around the inherent rigidity in the design of men's jackets. In contrast to the creative freedom common in women's clothing, the blazer adheres to a universal template with lapels, sleeves, button-front, and structured shoulders. La Veste explores how tradition has evolved and been challenged, rejected, or reinterpreted through the creative use of prints, fabrics, deconstructive techniques, embroidery, and embellishments by France-based and inspired designers and fashion brands.

Visitors will journey through time as they immerse in the exhibition, which demonstrates the impact of the French Revolution on the evolution of men's fashion. From the visual cues of aristocratic opulence in the 18th century, to the emergence of simpler forms of dress that embodied egalitarianism, the collection showcases how clothing design reflects societal shifts. The muted tones of the Industrial Revolution were carried into the 20th century. These styles and colours were further defined by World War I and World War II to incorporate new modern military values of order, utility, and moderation. One notable piece to look out for is Claude Montana’s 1993 Black military wool jacket, a standout piece from David's 90s collection that encapsulates the essence of military influences.

It was not until the 1960s that counter-culture movements liberated menswear. Bright colours, bold patterns, and frayed edges, unconventional silhouettes became symbols of protest and self- expression, paving the way for contemporary designers to explore diverse styles. La Veste encapsulates this transformative history, illustrating the dynamic interplay between societal change and personal expression through fashion.


Some notable figures in Singapore, including artists like Ayden Sng and Allan Wu, badminton world champion Loh Kean Yew, and visual artist Faris Nakamura, have been involved in promoting the exhibition. Their participation adds an extra layer of excitement to the event, complementing the captivating display of David Tan's collection.

In addition to the La Veste exhibition, Alliance Française de Singapour will be hosting a dynamic array of activities as part of the Couture Programme, marking the thirteenth edition of their esteemed French Excellence initiative. Encouraging guests to delve into the cultural essence of French men's fashion, the event will feature an engaging lineup of film screenings and workshops.


Among the highlights are an extensive series of film screenings, including "Papicha" by Mounia Meddour; set in 1990s Algiers, the film portrays Nedjima's courageous fashion show amidst political turmoil. "Dior and I" by Frédéric Tcheng provides an insider's look at Christian Dior, revealing Raf Simons' debut haute couture collection, while Anne Fontaine's "Coco before Chanel" captures Coco Chanel's journey to fashion world, alongside other captivating screenings. Complementing the cinematic experiences are four beginner-friendly workshops, scheduled for Saturday, 27 January 2024, and 24 February 2024, at the Singapore Fashion Council. Participants are invited to bring their own jackets and customise them based on the thematic inspirations explored in the exhibition. Through these workshops, participants will uncover the endless possibilities of fashion, transforming their jackets into unique works of craft and art.

Alliance Française de Singapour extends its heartfelt gratitude to its partners: Crédit Agricole, Perrier, Vittel and Singapore Fashion Council.


For more information about Alliance Française de Singapour and information on booking tickets, visit: https://alliancefrancaise.org.sg/couture?#/

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