Fashion in Motion: Olivier Saillard’s Show

Part fashion, part mime and part dance were the combination of performance styles present at the Olivier Saillard V&A’s Fashion in Motion event on Friday 20th January. The half an hour show, named, ‘Models at Work’ was created by the Paris based museum director, Olivier Saillard. The idea behind the show was based on the concept of how models have posed on the catwalk and how this has changed over time.

Entering the show arena you were greeted by V&A ushers wearing hats illumined with vibrant orange V&A initials on their heads. It added a whimsical edge to the atmosphere and appropriately prepared you for the show. Once everyone had been ushered into their places, (MSL was privileged to be seated in the FROW) the lights went up and five famous French models from various age groups were standing upstage. Saillard had followed most of the usual conventions of a catwalk show such as the music, lights and outfit changes but with the use of some of his own avant – garde interpretation of the model’s poses and walk.


During part one a model holds her shoes aloft in her hands rather than wearing them on her feet. Bright clothing is omitted from the performance, using only the minimal black and white. In another part of the show the models change into white coats over a black body that resemble part of a doctor’s uniform. It was evident that the creator wanted the attention to be drawn to the models’ actions and poses as they were almost stripped down to the bare essentials like actors in rehearsal. Towards the end of the show the models performed the act of dressing making it feel as though you were part of something illicit or private. Sailliard was revealing the undercurrent of the model’s behaviour by revealing moments that would not occur in a designer’s show at Fashion Week. He wanted the backstage to be bought to the forefront of the show.

The model poses of the eighties were fairly easy to spot in the show as the music changed to electric pop and the models walked faster into the transition of a power strut. The models were strategically placed in a conveyor belt style down the middle of the catwalk at all times, in different stages of a particular pose converging into point where art, drama and fashion meet.

I was transfixed throughout the show and bounded out of it reeling on the high of an experience that was fun yet highly courageous.

Caroline Barnes

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