Director of the Palias Galliera for the last eight years, Olivier Saillard turned the city of Paris’s fashion museum into a must visit event, thanks to ideas from performance pieces by Tilda Swinton to the very first Azzedine Alaïa retrospective in the city. The fashion community was hit with a curveball when he decided to step down and quit in January to become the director of J.M. Weston, the French luxury men’s shoe company.
The person who took his place was the relatively unknown Spaniard named Miren Arzalluz, a political historian and who has honed her curating skills for eight years as the head of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation in Getaria, Spain. She ultimately pursued the new job because “this job was really going back to my thing.”
“I studied history, worked at a British think tank, earned my master’s in comparative politics at the London School of Economics. It was just after 9/11. The world was in such turmoil. I started going to the Victoria & Albert Museum for fashion exhibitions. Then I remember walking into the National Portrait Gallery bookshop and seeing a whole section on fashion history. It was a revelation. When you study history, it’s to be a social or political historian. But fashion? That was something that I had never dreamt of. I went to the Courtauld Institute of Art in Somerset House for a master’s in history of dress, and fell in love with the subject. I thought: “Oh, this is what I want to do.””