The Arlesienne, The Designers’ Muse

A mysterious and mythical character, the Arlesienne embodies the Provencal woman. After inspiring artists like Van Gogh, Picasso and Bizet, it’s the fashion designer Christian Lacroix who pays tribute to her in a moving exhibition, part of the Rencontres de la Photographie d'Arles 2014 festival.
By Caroline Taret

The Arlesienne, 'the symbol that everyone has in mind, this woman that we will perhaps never meet': this is how Christian Lacroix evokes this character inseparable from the city of Arles. She inspires the important fashion designer and is today at the heart of an exhibition staged by Christian Lacroix and visible in a lovely baroque chapel reopened for the occasion, the Chapelle de la Charité. This exhibition is noteworthy because it evokes the Arlesienne through both antique works (daguerreotypes, family photographs) and contemporary ones. The British photographer Katerina Jebb has produced a mysterious series of portraits of the Queen of Arles 2014 Mandy Graillon and the runners-up, genuine personalities of the region. They are captured in a full-length, life-size portrait and appear like ghosts, chimeras, a disturbing and beautiful vision. An exhibition on disappearance, absence, which speaks volumes about the love Christian Lacroix, himself from Arles, has for this female character.

We met with the fashion designer in the company of Olivier Baussan, founder of L'Occitane and initiator of this exhibition supported by L'OCCITANE. This feminine archetype also inspires Olivier Baussan, who dedicates a perfume to her that you can discover in October 2014. But how to capture the scent of an absent woman? This is the magic of the exercise.

L'Arlésienne, Christian Lacroix
Chapelle de la Charité – Arles
Jusqu'au 21 septembre 2014
www.rencontres-arles.com

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