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As part of the 38th edition of European Heritage Days, with its theme of ‘Heritage for all’, the headquarters of Kering and Balenciaga at the former Laennec Hospital was open to the public for a sixth consecutive year.

On September 18-19, 2021, Kering invited the public to explore this historic site through a new visitor journey. As every year, the event featured contemporary works of art from the Pinault Collection in the chapel. However, the 2021 edition also included 50 original models from Cristóbal Balenciaga’s Haute Couture collections from 1938 to 1968, which were on display in the Croix Est area of Laennec.

The display created a dialogue between Paul Rebeyrolle’s majestic 1978 work, Végas del Condado (‘Spanish landscape’) and two monumental canvases by Hélène Delprat, and two paintings by Wang Yancheng, whose work is being exhibited here for the first time. The positioning reveals a subtle similarity between the work of such a remarkable artist as Paul Rebeyrolle, who was born in 1926, and two younger artists, Hélène Delprat, born in 1957, and Wang Yancheng, born in 1960.

Despite the decades that separate them, all three artists made the same choice – to produce large-scale paintings that can be described as ‘landscapes’, both real and imaginary; landscapes that are created from fragments and where invented worlds are jostling each other in the poetic sense.

The new displays at the Laennec chapel reflect a desire for the Pinault Collection to be accessible to as many people as possible, courtesy of a series of external exhibitions in addition to its appearances at museums in Venice and the Bourse de Commerce building that recently reopened in Paris. A unique selection of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s Haute Couture creations from 1938 to 1968 were also be on display, giving visitors a rare opportunity to take a deep dive into the House’s history and discover a different side of its creative universe.

I’m delighted that this exceptional space, created in the reign of Louis XIII, is opening every year to an ever-larger audience.

“I’m delighted that this exceptional space, created in the reign of Louis XIII, is opening every year to an ever-larger audience. And I like the idea that these visitors - who feel such an attachment to the heritage buildings handed down over the centuries – will be able measure the extent to which today’s creators are continuing the great adventure of art and civilization.” François-Henri Pinault.

Encouraged by its Artistic Director, Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga made its return to Couture in July 2021. Highlighting the exceptional degree of creativity within the House today, a film of Balenciaga’s 50th Couture collection will be shown during the exhibition, providing a contemporary echo to the stylistic modernity of its founder. By bringing them together, the designs for the new Balenciaga Couture collection will underline the links between the founder’s radical esthetic and the innovative creative vision of Demna Gvasalia, whose work involves reinterpretation, the amplification of volumes, and the use of certain colors and materials.

40, rue de Sèvres is a jewel of Parisian heritage. Known as the home of the Laennec Hospital until 2000, the site was the subject of a vast renovation project. Given the practical needs of a hospital environment, this architectural masterpiece had suffered numerous damaging alterations to its original appearance. The challenge was a hugely complex one: to carry out a restoration without betraying the spirit of the buildings, while also complying with the regulations for working on a national monument, such as the chapel built during the reign of Louis XIII.

Since 2016, the site has hosted the headquarters of Kering and its House, Balenciaga. The Group has played an active part in Laennec’s renaissance and its change of use, with the utmost respect being shown for its architectural qualities and its historic dimension.

Every year since then, Kering has opened the doors of its headquarters during the European Heritage Days, giving people the chance to discover the history of this exceptional location and enabling different generations to realize the importance of preserving and valuing their national heritage.

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