Enter through the doors at 18, rue de la Verrerie in Paris’ Marais district, walk through the courtyard and into the space that occupies Galerie Alaïa and discover a secret garden of sorts, 'planted' by designer and artist Kris Ruhs. The fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa commissioned Ruhs, who has also designed jewellery for Alaïa, to create his own magical world. Titled Hanging Garden, and on view until 27 December, the installation invites viewers to use their own imagination to transport them to a place of wonder.
Over a year, Ruhs and his team worked painstakingly with porcelain, brass and iron thread, creating over 45,000 pieces for the installation, which also comprises his first solo show in Paris. Curved brass forms delicate flower petals, while carefully formed pieces of porcelain are shaped to look like leaves. The dangling flowers hang over three islands that visitors can walk through.
'The experience of it is to look and get lost,' says Donatien Grau, an academic who works with Alaïa. Adds the artist, 'I like the movement, when people brush by it or whatever, it kind of gives you a little bit of lightness to it.' The walls of the space were also covered with swirls, and leaves and blossoms in metallic hues of gold, silver and bronze, accented with the same pieces in the garden. The project also got the local community involved; artists Julian Schnabel and Mike Bouchet participated in the installation, as did Alaïa and members of his team.
'Everybody has a different approach to it,' says Ruhs. 'Everybody has a different feeling. Everybody has a different reference, so that’s nice. It’s like theatre. I leave it in the hands of the audience.'