Timeless Elegance Through the Lens: Paolo Roversi’s Poetic Journey in Photography – March 16- July 14, 2024 at the Palais Galliera

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Fresh from the press opening of the exhibition dedicated to Paolo Roversi at the Palais Galliera, I find myself transported to a realm where time halts and beauty reigns in its purest essence. Within these walls, Paolo Roversi, a virtuoso of the photographic arts, orchestrates a captivating journey spanning five decades of fashion, emotion, and artistic metamorphosis.

Roversi’s photographic odyssey began in Seville in 1966, when he was just 21 years old. In 1973, he embarked on a pivotal chapter by relocating to Paris. His first port of call? None other than Guy Bourdin, the luminary photographer whom Roversi revered above all. In a whimsical exchange, Bourdin, curious about Roversi’s astrological sign (Libra), swiftly dismissed the notion of Roversi becoming his assistant, citing their astrological incompatibility.

Roversi, an Italian maestro who found his muse in the streets of Paris since 1973, has weaved a tapestry of images that speak volumes of the fashion world’s ever-changing yet timeless allure. His lens has captured the essence of haute couture through the pages of the most prestigious magazines – Vogue France and Italia, Egoïste, Luncheon – and his collaborations with design legends like Yohji Yamamoto, Romeo Gigli, and Rei Kawakubo have been nothing short of iconic.

But it’s not just the who and the what that makes Roversi’s work stand out; it’s the how. His studio, a sanctuary of large-format cameras and Polaroids, is where his magic unfolds. Here, he embraces the unpredictable, turning chance and accidents into the keystones of his style. Roversi’s work is a testament to the power of adaptation, seamlessly transitioning from the tangible grains of film to the pixels of digital photography without losing an iota of his signature touch – a sepia-toned world of soft black and whites, illuminated by natural light and the glow of a Mag-Lite flashlight.

Each photograph by Roversi is more than a mere snapshot of fashion; it’s a portrait, a story, a moment in time captured forever. His ability to draw out the natural, intense presence of the world’s top models, to give life to fabrics and forms, is unparalleled. Roversi stands at the very heart of the fashion world, yet maintains a discerning distance, aloof from its fleeting fancies.

This exhibition, showcasing 140 of his works including unseen Polaroids and archival treasures, is not just a walk through a gallery. It’s a poetic journey curated by Sylvie Lécallier, taking us from the shadows into the light, into Roversi’s world. The Palais Galliera transforms into more than a museum; it becomes a theatre of dreams, a studio where anything and everything is possible.

Paolo Roversi’s exhibition is not just about fashion photography; it’s about the pursuit of beauty, the creation of a universe that defies time and trend. Here, within these hallowed halls, we don’t just see images; we witness the legacy of a true artist.

CURATOR Sylvie Lécallier, head curator of the photographic collection

Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de Paris
10, Avenue Pierre Ier de Serbie, Paris 16e arrondissement

Opening times

Tuesday to Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm.
Late opening Thursdays until 9:00pm.

Closed on Mondays.

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.