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Tilda Swinton was the self-effacing-yet-central figure of an offbeat performance that premiered on last Saturday night, in which she breathes life into rare treasures from the archive of Paris’s Galliera museum of fashion.

Dressed in a plain white robe, the kind once worn by the models in the couture salon of Yves Saint Laurent, her cropped blonde hair scraped right back, Swinton radiated emotion as she bore the clothes down the “runway” to a full-length mirror and back again to be spirited away, before a spellbound Paris art and fashion crowd..

For the show, staged over three days at the Palais de Tokyo modern art museum, the curator Olivier Saillard chose 57 dresses, coats and accessories, many by the greatest names in fashion history: Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior or Pierre Balmain and many more.

Separately, a film created by the artist Katerina Jebb, showing Ms. Swinton interacting with the clothing, was playing in a neighboring gallery during performances throughout the weekend as part of the Autumn Festival in Paris. The show, which concluded on Monday night, was called “The Impossible Wardrobe.”

Tilda opened with a grossly poof sleeved corset top worn by Cléo de Mérode from Bon Marché dated 1900.

A lavish Beer coat from 1933

Here Swinton clutches on to a Napoleon Bonaparte jacket (dated 1805-15)

Tilda Swinton holds a Schiaparelli 1950 harlequin opera coat.

Certain pieces such as this 1898 embroidered cape were laid out on a canvas covered board.

Tilda Swinton with Schiaparelli.

Another piece of Schiaparelli, this time a 1953 shocking pink skirt.

A Lanvin 1934 dress.

A Kristoff von Drecoll 1905 coat.

She holds a bustle cage from 1885.

Tilda Swinton with 1942 Madame Grès.

A corseted top worn by actress Sarah Bernhardt was also a star item.

A 1900 feathered fan is also held high and lofty above the head.

Mariano Fortuny “Delphos” dress.

 Tilda Swinton with Chanel.

There were only a few pieces that went beyond 1960.  This Yohji Yamamoto hat from 1993 was held like armour with its structure bouncing up and down.

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