Three Lingerie Models Create Chaos at the Musee d'Orsay

14 January 2012

The Musée d'Orsay is planning an upcoming show on "Degas and the Nude" for March, but they didn't expect half-nude models to produce their own exhibition in the Impressionist galleries one day last month.

Lingerie maker Etam covertly sent in three underwear models to film a teaser clip for their spring/summer collection. Now the Etam video has gone viral, sparking impassioned debate in the French blogosphere. The controversy has even reached such a pitch that the museum may sue the fashion label.

This past Tuesday, Etam published the surreptitious video on their Web site without getting the museum's permission. The clip shows three women in trench coats standing in front of the Musée d'Orsay’s Impressionist collection. The women suddenly strip down to their underwear and strut in front of the stunned — but clearly amused — spectators before running for the exit. The stunt could have been a refreshing piece of guerrilla performance art if it hadn’t been constructed solely as a big-money advertising blitz. The clip is part of a series of videos intended to encourage Internet users to watch Etam's fashion show online later this month. Other episodes feature the same trio of models stripping down at the Eiffel Tower and the Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Musée d'Orsay administration didn’t find any humor in the happening. "I am in charge of filming [in the museum]; such a scenario could never have been accepted, it's unimaginable," Amélie Hardivillier, the museum's communications director, told Libération. According to Le Figaro, Musée d'Orsay president Guy Cogeval plans to write to Etam's C.E.O. to demand that the link to the video be removed from the company's Web site and all other platforms — or else the museum's legal department will take action.

Photo: Video still courtesy Etam

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