As the train came into Paris the baby in the seat in front stood up and looked back over the seat. I wondered idly why one so often has a firm opinion about the gender of the very young even when clothes - in her case dungarees - tell very little. For example, my father in the picture here looks like a boy to me, despite the bows and fluff.
We stopped a day in Paris to take in an exhibition. The most touted this month is Hitchcock et l'art: coincidences fatales (works by Dalí, Magritte, Ernst and other likely suspects along with film stills, film clips and a reconstruction of the shower in the Bates Motel). But with the baby in mind we went instead to La Mode et l'enfant 1780-2000. It runs at the Musée Galliera, now the fashion museum of the City of Paris, until 18 November. Walking to the museum we passed famous fashion houses. There was a 70,463 frs tag on a coat in the window of Jacques Fath, but the exhibition turned out to be distinctly democratic. Photographs of princes and princesses in sailor suits are there but so is Gap, and - because the exhibition begins at the very start of a child's life with the layette (the clothes for its first two years) - so are disposable nappies.
LRB 6 September 2001 | PDF Download