Parisian Stroll #8: Exhibition: Model, the Body of Fashion

With the Paris Fashion Week debuting today, we couldn’t but travel through the ages of modeling.

Text: Christina Zikou


Fashion and models go hand-in-hand. Models embody the canvas of creation and dream within an industry which is based upon the production of imagery. From the first photographs of the 19th century to the pages of magazines, advertisements or videos, one can explore the history of modeling within the Mannequin – Le corps de la Mode exhibition, presented at Les docks Cité de la Mode et du Design, while enjoying the creations of legendary photographers such as Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, Henry Clarke, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Nick Knight, Corinne Day and Juergen Teller.


Models posing for the illustrations in La Revue de la Mode circa, 1875

Anonymous model posing for fashion house Paquin, 1917

Paul Poiret and his models, 1925

Models posing for Jean Patou,1927

Model posing for Madeleine Vionnet, 1933


Although the models of the late 19th and early 20th century remained mostly anonymous clotheshorses, the Post-War period marked a transformation of the notion of a model. During the 50s, those wonderful “dolls without a soul” turned into real icons, with Bettina (Graziani), Dorian (Leigh), Dovima (alias Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba) and Suzy Parker becoming the absolute protagonists of fashion and the muses of famous photographers.



Dorian Leigh

Couturier Raphael


After the 1950s and the 1960s, fashion changed direction completely and the role of the model was reinvented. A new generation of photographers including Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin had a major impact, for they casted her in a plethora of roles. During the 80s, the peak has been reached. The models’ perfect bodies and faces became the heart and soul of fashion. This is how started the phenomenon of the top models that turned the mannequin into a cult character.

Nicole Meyer posing for Charles Jourdan, 1978

Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day, 1990

Kristen McMenamy photographed by Miles Aldridge, 2009


At the turn of the millennium, models were more powerful than ever. With the digital revolution, photography was opened up to brand new horizons. Despite the increased possibility for artificial creation, we have to admit that there is nothing more enviable than a true supermodel, which is a blessing for the fashion industry.


Let the catwalk show begin and the rare gems shine!


Info : The exhibition «Mannequin Le corps de la mode» runs from February 16th  to May 19th  2013 at Les docks Cité de la Mode et du Design, 13 quai d’Austerlitz 75013, Paris. For more info visit


Photos via