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An exhibition in Paris celebrates sportswear, ahead of 2024 Olympics.

With the 2024 Olympics upcoming in Paris, the fashion world is looking to sportswear. Expect athletic lines from your favorite designer brands in the months leading up to the Olympics next summer, but until then, a new exhibition in Paris looks back on the art of sportswear. The Musée des Arts décoratifs is opening an exhibition called “Fashion and Sports: From one Podium to Another” on September 20, which runs until April 7, 2024.

Over 450 pieces of clothing, sneakers, accessories and old paraphernalia looks at the evolution of sportswear. It also reveals how sportswear has influenced fashion, from Chanel to Lanvin and Schiaparelli, all of who made sportswear trendy, classy and wearable.

Who can deny the comfort factor in sportswear? It might have even made designer fashion more comfortable, from Balenciaga tracksuits to Off-White hoodies. The exhibition was curated by Sophie Lemahieu, who kicks off the exhibition off in the 19th century, when doctors encouraged patients to engage in athletic activity for health. It traces how sportswear began with team uniforms (like football and rugby shirts), and evolved into stylish outfits for golf, tennis and cycling.

It wasn’t until the interwar period between 1918 and 1939 that fashion designers like Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin and Gabrielle Chanel really pioneered sportswear. They helped make it fashionable, incorporating it into everyday wardrobes, from sneakers to shorts. French designer Rene Lacoste, founder of Lacoste, introduced the polo shirt into menswear—it became much more than just a piece of sportswear, it defined preppy chic.

The exhibition pays homage to the Olympics, as it will have a mock up running track with golden rings that hang above. There are historic photos of fashion-forward sports stars who made history, like French soccer player Zinedine Zidane, who posed in a campaign for Christian Dior, to Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, who became a brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton in 2021.

It also highlights winter sports like skiing and ice skating, which allowed women to wear pants in a time when it was still taboo. Drool over the Hermès sweaters from the 1930s, to the vintage Club Med ski suits from the 1980s. While it wans’t until the 1980s that sportswear really took off, this comprehensive survey also shows how fashion has been in the shadows of the Olympic games, from designers like Emilio Pucci, who was on the 1936 Italian Olympic team, to Ottavio Missoni, who was a champion 400 meter runner.

There’s also a section devoted to skateboarding and surfing, and how sportswear has made its way into couture. Expect to see how hip hop changed the identity of sportswear and the whole “logomania” movement created hype around sportswear.

All in all, this exhibition is expected to provide a new way of looking at sportswear, even your own sneakers. It fully debunks the famed Karl Lagerfeld quote: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.”

Fashion and Sports: From one Podium to Another (Mode et sport – d’un podium à l’autre) runs at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from September 20, 2023 to April 7, 2024.



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