Skip to content

À la mode à grand Paris

August 24, 2009

There is nothing worse for fashion anxiety than a trip to Paris. As I said in a previous post, the “in style” bar is about 20 feet higher (so high that one of those pole vaulter sticks might come in handy).

A dress by Madeleine Vionnet, courtesy the Musée des Arts décoratifs

An evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet, 1936, courtesy the Musée des arts décoratifs. Robe du soir, hiver 1936, Les Arts Décoratifs,Union Française des Arts du Costume © Patrick Gries. See how the fabric wraps around to make such an amazing silhouette?

Fortunately, there is also a lot of inspiration. You can find it on the streets, where nearly every woman is sporting shirtdresses (which the New York Times talks about here), long empire-waist summer dresses and dramatic color pairings like deep indigo-purple with gray.

In France, people take fashion more seriously than just dressing nicely. They have whole museums dedicated to the practice. On that note, I recently visited one of them, the Musée des arts décoratifs, to see the exposition Madeleine Vionnet: Puriste de la mode. The exposition displays the creations of one Madeleine Vionnet, a couturier (or “fasion designer”) — just think as her as Yves Saint Laurent for the first half of the twentieth century (with a whole lot more wearable clothing).

This one makes me think of a Grecian princess. Dress by Madeleine Vionnet, courtesy the Musée des Arts décoratifs.

This one makes me think of a Grecian princess. Evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet, 1935, courtesy the Musée des arts décoratifs. Robe du soir, hiver 1935, Les Arts Décoratifs,Union Française des Arts du Costume © Patrick Gries

Vionnet, as far as I can tell, had an uncanny ability to take two or three pieces of fabric, fold them around in a clever way, and build a completely flattering dress out of it (as you can see int he first photo). Nowadays in haute couture, there are a lot of beautiful dresses I could admire as art, but very few that I would actually wear. This collection was full of things I would have killed (almost) to have in my closet.

We have Vionnet herself to thank for the dozens of dresses on display at Les Arts Décoratifs. She donated them to the Union Française des Arts du Costume in 1952, and they now are part of the museum’s fashion collection.

Vionnet’s dresses are displayed behind glass on black backgrounds, but usually they are arranged so that you can see all sides of the dress without too much neck bending. There are photos of women modeling different dresses, and videos show you the way some of the dresses were constructed. I was surprised to find that most of the time, Vionnet only used a few pieces of fabric to create seemingly complex designs.

The exhibit will be going on at 107, rue de Rivoli from now until January 31, 2010, so you have plenty of time if you’re planning a trip in the next few months. If you’d like more information about the exhibit, visit the site here. Ticket prices vary based on your age an where you come from (Sadly, there is no free entry for non-EU country natives, but there are some reduced price ticket options for young people).

If you’re in need of a fashion pick-me-up, this exhibit is definitely worth the entry fee.

I love the frills on this one! Dress by Madeleine Vionnet, courtesy the Musée des Arts décoratifs.

I love the frills on this one! Evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet, 1921, courtesy the Musée des Arts décoratifs. Robe du soir, hiver 1921, Les Arts Décoratifs,Union Française des Arts du Costume © Patrick Gries

Advertisements
2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2009 12:28 am

    I think, if I ever am able to come to Paris, I will have to have you help me figure out my wardrobe via Skype. 🙂

    Are jeans allowed in Paris? I’ve recently developed a love for them.

  2. August 25, 2009 12:29 am

    Haha and I accidentally typed the wrong blog into the Website bar. Apparently, there is a sarahinboston.blogspot.com too… I’ve got it right on this comment, not the previous one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: