From Mod to pop Paris pays tribute Peter Knapp’s revolutionary fashion aesthetics

“It resonates like a little slap, a snapping of fingers…Knapp!” notes Paris’s Cité de la Mode et du Design on it’s latest exhibition which pays tribute to the living legend of all things fashion.

“Depending on one’s generation, he is reminiscent of Dim Dam Dom, the cult TV show of the 1960s, or of Elle magazine, and for others, he is a benchmark in graphic design or is closely associated with the New Realists. More than anything, it was the photographs that made the man. With Peter Knapp, girls take flight, futuristic silhouettes dazzle us, and designer boots jog through the streets of Paris. The time is right. The decades of the 60s and ‘70s are, in terms of fashion and in mood, synonymous with freedom and creativity. The photographer is not just a witness to this incredible era; he is part and parcel of recording this new world in pictures. Whether it was for couture houses (André Courrèges, Emanuel Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, among others) or for magazines (Elle, Stern, Vogue…), Peter Knapp mastered the art of what was required. He accepted constraints and followed all that Paris offered in terms of innovation, sometimes even of irreverence” says Audrey Hoareau, co-curator of the show.

The Dancing in the Street – Peter Knapp and Fashion, 1960-1970 exhibit offers us the chance to discover, through nearly a hundred images, most of which have never been on display, one of the most imaginative collections that fashion photography produced during that period.

As part of “Dancing in the Street, Peter Knapp and Fashion 1960-1970”, the Cité has entrusted Fixioneers studio with the creation of an app designed to accompany the visitor throughout the exhibit.


The creative process, background, transformations, archive images…imagined in collaboration with Peter Knapp and François Cheval, the app is also a complement to any visit, and offers unique content. A real audio guide through the exhibit and a selection of video fragments and images that reach beyond the main body of the show allow visitors to explore the photographer’s universe. Artworks are described and deciphered by Peter Knapp and François Cheval.

Also as an extension of the show at the Cité, the photographs of Peter Knapp cross the Seine and set up shop on the esplanade of the Gare de Lyon. Two series are on display here: one created in Saintes Maries de la Mer, where models are at the beach, in front of modules created by designer Slavik, or, in front of walls. This is fashion that’s all about graphical, fresh lines. Another series features the streets of Paris by night. As a contrast to the previous series, it highlights the city with blurred and light effect. In black and white, these two series from the early 1960s are reminiscent of travel, and, Gare de Lyon oblige, leaving for sunnier climes.

Starting in 1960, Peter Knapp held the post of artistic director for Elle magazine. In charge of its graphical direction, he modernized it, inspired by Alexey Brodovitch and Henry Wolf. A new visual language was henceforth promoted by Elle, resonating with the modern spirit of the times. From then on, Peter Knapp stamped his signature on new media such as television (Dim Dam Dom 1965-1968). In the 1970s, he worked with Italian, American, or German magazines. His abilities as a graphic designer and his typographical knowledge allowed him to direct projects as diverse as a contemporary art collection for the Centre George Pompidou, or the artistic direction of Décoration Internationale (1983).

Dancing in the Street, Peter Knapp an Fashion 1960-1970, Friday, March 9 – Sunday, June 10, 2018, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Open daily, except Tuesdays.

Cover photo via Instagram / @citemodedesign