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guy bourdin fashion photography femininities maison chloe
Guy Bourdin, Paris Vogue 1975, Chloé spring-summer 1975 collection©The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017 / Courtesy A + C

See the fashion of Chloé through the lens of Guy Bourdin

The first exhibition at the newly opened Maison Chloé explores the lesser-known collaboration between the house and great French fashion photographer

“We think we know who the Chloé girls are but, in fact, there’s a kind of enigmatic quality to Guy Bourdin’s work that makes you think again.” So explained curator Judith Clark, leading a tour around the inaugural exhibition of the Maison Chloé, a newly-opened space which is set to host a year-round programme of exhibitions and events. Called Femininities – Guy Bourdin, the show explores the way the iconic French fashion photographer shot the work and world of Chloé, the fashion house founded by Gaby Aghion back in 1952. Beloved for its carefree spirit and bohemianism, the show pushes the boundaries of our perception of the Chloé woman, using Bourdin’s famously transgressive imagery to open up new interpretations. Hence the ‘Femininities,’ plural.

Clark first worked on an exhibition for Chloé back in 2012, curating the retrospective held in the Palais de Tokyo. It was here that Bourdin’s name began coming up again and again – although she rightly admits, “People don't know about this relationship.” Actually, Bourdin – who loved the ephemeral nature of working on magazines – pretty much shot more Chloe than anyone while working at Paris Vogue between the late 50s and late 80s. “This relationship is an established one,” Clark explained. “When women were reading the pages of French Vogue, Chloé was very often (seen) through the lens of Guy Bourdin.”

“We think we know who the Chloé girls are but, in fact, there’s a kind of enigmatic quality to Guy Bourdin’s work that makes you think again” – Judith Clark

Indeed, Bourdin’s playful and provocative universe (where women might stand, in evening dresses, overlooking the body of a dead man lying face down in a fountain, or else stage a duel or a seance) seems at odds with our expectations of Chloé. That’s what the show aims to challenge, showing the way the two came together in surprising and visually striking ways. “There’s a kind of drama about his work, there’s a sexuality about his work and there’s an element of his work which is always considered difficult,” Clark said. “It’s an exhibition about provocation, it is an exhibition about interpretation – about taking an archive and giving it a completely different cultural context.” 

Catch ‘Feminities – Guy Bourdin’ until 3 September at Maison Chloé. Tickets available from