10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olivier Saillard

Olivier Saillard is a renowned fashion historian, performance artist, and curator whose influence in the fashion industry is both impactful and revolutionary. His knowledge and passion for fashion, art, design, and history have captivated audiences worldwide. While you may know him from his unique catwalk performances or his vast contribution to fashion exhibitions, there is much more to know about this avant-garde creative. Now, let’s unravel 10 things you probably didn’t know about Olivier Saillard.

1. Saillard Has a Degree in Archæology and Art History

Olivier Saillard initially set out on a path quite different from the fashion world. With a profound interest in history, he obtained a degree in archeology and art history. Taking this extensive background of knowledge, he found a unique perspective that brilliantly connected the realms of history, art, and fashion. It’s this unconventional blend that eventually reformed fashion curating and brought a fresh breath of air to the industry.

Saillard’s seamless crossover from the world of archeology and art history into fashion is an inspiring story of passion and curiosity. His distinctive background forms the foundation for his approach to fashion and design, illustrating how fashion is not just about vanity, but also a reflection and voice of different time periods.

2. He Headed Palais Galliera for Eight Years

From 2010 to 2018, Olivier Saillard served as the director of Palais Galliera, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris. During his tenure, he transformed the museum into a globally recognized institution. He brought in a fresh perspective to fashion curation, producing innovative and unique exhibitions such as the Comme des Garçons exhibition, which celebrated Rei Kawakubo’s avant-garde designs.

Recreating highly sought-after exhibitions, Saillard’s curating skills brought unprecedented success to Palais Galliera. His commitment to bringing fashion history and art to the forefront of public consciousness played a key role in enhancing the museum’s international prestige.

3. Saillard is a Respected Performance Artist

Aside from curating and directing, Olivier Saillard is also admired for his performance art. He frequently collaborates with designer Tilda Swinton for his fashion performances, which often involve poetry and the creative use of discarded garments. His performances, often centered around the idea of ‘memory of garments’, lures audiences into a world where fashion, art, and poetry beautifully intertwine.

His most famous work, “The Impossible Wardrobe” performed at the Palais Galliera, featured Swinton parading historical garments while Saillard narrated. This performance highlighted his ability to make the fashion of yesteryears relevant and emotive in today’s world.

4. The Iconoclastic Modeler of Fashion

Olivier Saillard is known for his radical views on the fashion world. He believes that the industry has become more concerned with commerce than artistry. In particular, he is concerned with the ephemeral nature of fashion and the mass production of clothes, which he regards as the industry overlooking the artistic and historical importance of fashion.

Saillard is recognized for his tireless work in elevating fashion to the realm of art and history. By producing thought-provoking exhibitions and performances, Saillard encourages his audiences to reconsider the meaning and implications of fashion, promoting a more conscious and mindful approach to design and consumption.

5. The Maestro’s Favorite Era in Fashion

Although he has a deep respect for all eras of fashion, Olivier Saillard’s favorite period is the post-war era, especially the works of Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga. He admires the freshness and inventiveness of the designs that emerged amidst the aftermath of World War II. This fascination can be seen in his various exhibitions and performances that have featured or referenced this period.

While Saillard is critical of the fast fashion cycle, he sees haute couture as an epitome of slow fashion. He admires the intricate craftsmanship, the attention to detail, and the passion that epitomizes this era of fashion.

6. Saillard Used to be the Creative Director of J.M. Weston

Different from his roles in museums and performances, Olivier Saillard served as the artistic, image, and culture director of J.M. Weston, a luxury shoe brand, from 2018 to 2020. His job involved connecting the brand’s image with contemporary art and culture, further elevating the brand’s recognition globally.

Saillard’s stint in the luxury footwear brand marked his debut in the corporate sector. However, his vast knowledge, passion, and creativity allowed him to successfully make the transition and contributed significantly to the brand’s image and culture, thereby, fortifying J.M. Weston’s position in the fashion world.

7. He Created a Global Platform

In 2014, he established the European Fashion Heritage Association (EFHA), an international hub for European fashion, cultural heritage institutions, and digital heritage. This platform combines Saillard’s passion for fashion history, culture, and technology, aiming to make European fashion heritage accessible to a broad audience.

Saillard’s mission with EFHA is rooted in his belief in the importance of preserving and illuminating the reminders of fashion’s history. This further highlights his dedication as a historian to ensuring that the important fashion milestones and traditions aren’t lost in today’s fast-paced world.

8. Saillard is a Published Author

Adding another feather to his cap, Olivier Saillard has made significant contributions to the field of fashion literature. His book, “Models of Elegance,” discusses the aesthetics and history of fashion through a comprehensive study of 85 iconic models. This work further solidifies his status as a preeminent fashion historian and intellectual.

His writing, like his curating and performance, illustrates his uncanny ability to translate fashion’s visual language into articulate literary narratives, thereby reaching a wider audience and engaging them in an intriguing world of fashion and art.

9. He Teaches Fashion History

Ever the educator, Saillard uses his extensive knowledge of fashion, art, and history to inspire and guide budding designers. He teaches fashion history and cultural studies at Sciences Po, one of France’s leading universities, sharing his profound passion and understanding of fashion with the younger generation.

His classes, much like his exhibitions, are known for their depth and unique viewpoint. They combine historical facts with compelling narratives and artistic interpretations, reflecting Saillard’s philosophy of viewing fashion as a cultural and historical phenomenon.

10. He is an Advocate for Sustainable Fashion

Saillard has always advocated for sustainable fashion. He emphasizes reducing waste, appreciating the artistry in fashion, and redefining our relationship with clothes. In 2020, he organized an exhibition in the south of France called “Manifeste.” In this exhibit, he transformed vintage outfits donated by women across France into new creations, promoting the idea of upcycling and transforming used garments.

His concerns about fast fashion and its impact on culture and the environment stem from his understanding of fashion as more than just a commercial enterprise. Saillard’s understanding of the facets of fashion, from the historic to the present, fuels his commitment to promoting sustainable practices within the industry.

In conclusion, Olivier Saillard’s extraordinary life and career reveal an individual deeply rooted in the intersection of art, history, and fashion. With every role he has held, he has challenged typical fashion narratives and prompted a deeper understanding of fashion as a cultural artifact. Visit his website here to discover more about his work and journey.