For any fashion lover in the world, there is sort of an appreciation of style and substance that goes deep within the soul. From East to West, fashion is much more than about looking good; it is also to do with culture and history. Le musée de la mode et du costume shows it very well with the exhibition “The 50s – Fashion in France, 1947 – 1957.”
The city’s Museum of Fashion occupies a suitably fashionable mansion—the 19th-century residence of Marie Brignole-Sale, Duchess of Galliera; and, having emerged from an extensive makeover in September 2013, it is now more stylish than ever.
The year after she became a widow in 1876, Marie Brignole-Sale, the Duchess of Galliera, decided to build a museum to display her art collection to her adopted hometown of Paris. With the help of the architect Leon Ginain, the neo-Renaissance building that houses the museum today was erected, and opened six years after her death in 1888.
This exhibition returns on the great moments of the fashion industry during this decade, which was the haute couture’s golden age.
The 1950s were a decisive period for French haute couture, which had suffered badly in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and the war and was now reborn and made eternal. The list of names says it all: Jacques Heim, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Jacques Fath making up the old guard; followed by newcomers Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Jacques Griffe, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Cardin. Paradoxically the dominance of French fashion hinged not only on the prestige of names that spelled luxury, elegance and originality, but also on the profession’s willingness to make the revolutionary move into ready-to-wear. In 1954 the ‘Couturiers Associés’ – Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Paquin, Carven, Jean Dessès – founded the first haute couture ready-to-wear licensing company.
Drawn from the Palais Galliera collection and sporting the labels of the most famous couturiers as well as others now forgotten (Jean Dessès, Madeleine Vramant, Lola Prusac), the remarkable pieces making up this exhibition – some 100 models and accessories – retrace the evolution of the female form through the decade 1947–1957: from the birth of the New Look to the death of Christian Dior and the advent of Yves Saint Laurent.
In the 1950s haute couture and ready-to-wear were one of France’s major economic sectors and a veritable fashion breeding ground. This was haute couture’s golden age, when Paris regained its title of world fashion capital.
This museum is worth visiting for many reasons and you don’t have to be a fan of fashion. Best of all, it’s not crowded – no long lines à la The Louvre. Entry fee (8 Euros) is steep for what you get. The building itself is a beautiful Beaux-Arts structure with a small garden in back filled with impressive sculpture.
There is also a beautiful garden, and the surroundings are nice overall – even though it is situated just a couple of blocks from Champs Elysées, the area is really calm and quiet.
Anyone that can appreciate fashion as well as the history of costume should visit this place at least once in their lives.