Art market Magazine February 2014

 
EXHIBITIONS 
 
The novel of a wardrobe 
lice Alleaume……
EXHIBITIONS

The novel of a wardrobe
lice Alleaume… the name doesn't ring a bell? And yet it's thanks to her that you can now enjoy the quintessence of fashion, from the Belle Époque
to the Thirties, at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. This slender, dark-haired woman, a dyed-in-the-wool Parisian, accompanies visitors through all the rooms, guiding them between the display cabinets just as she would have done in the muted salons of Chéruit in the Place Vendôme. For our hostess was the couture company's first sales assistant, and her wardrobe shows how experienced she was in the subtleties of French chic, skilfully combining dresses and accessories – whether or not designer. Her collection was donated to the Palais Galliera, the Paris Museum of Fashion, in 2008 and 2010, and is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it revives a great but forgotten name. The couture company founded by Madeleine Chéruit in 1898 was one of the very top houses, like Paquin, Doucet and Dœuillet. Every day Alice, who was a consultant to nearly six hundred smart women between 1912 and 1923, scrupulously wrote down the models sold to her customers in notebooks, accompanied with comments that bring the

A

ambiance of the couture house back to life. What a mine of information! Patiently cross-referenced with the models deposited with the Archives de Paris and photographs and fabric samples preserved by the Conseil des Prud'hommes de la Seine (to avoid any counterfeiting) – and compared with outfits that have survived, these notes enable us to see what went on behind the scenes of haute couture, from the first sketches of models to their personal adaptation to customers' requirements. At the beginning of the Twenties, nearly two hundred and forty designs were brought out twice a year, compared to forty-five today. To that should be added off-season models, furs, lingerie and wedding dresses, not to mention outfits for children and young girls. While the wide shop windows opened onto the street and the upper floors were taken up by the salons and workshops, nearly six hundred seamstresses worked away at the end of the courtyard. The reputation of Paris, where fashion had been established since the Middle Ages, was in no danger of yielding its supremacy. After all, it was in the City of Light that Worth opened the first couture company in history in 1857. Alice's elder sister was the first sales assistant there, and Alice herself learned how to

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Non-designer evening dress, early 20th century, pink silk chiffon, ivory tulle embroidered with sequins, pearl and rhinestone embroidery.

HD

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© Stéphane Piera/Galliera/Roger-Viollet

Art Market Magazine February 2014
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