Monday, January 14, 2013
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Paris. Fashion. Art. The current exhibit at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris is a celebration of fashion as painted by the Impressionists. A grand selection of Impressionist masterpieces plus clothing from Palais Garnier and Musee des Artes Decoratif and other fashion museums come together for one of the best exhibits in years at D’Orsay. Of course, I’m extremely interested in fashion (My Year-Long Creative Project) and the Impressionists captured day-to-day fashion in the last half of the 19th century. Degas, Monet, Manet, Caillebotte, Renior, Cassatt, and others are well represented. In my opinion, James Tissot and his masterworks steal the show. His painting show the fabrics and the fashions in a manner that makes you feel that you could reach out and fondle the fabric.
Garments of the era are displayed next to the works. It strikes me immediately that these women were quite short, and oh, my goodness, what tiny waists they had. I realize they were strapped into corsets and made the best (or least) of what they had. I’m sure the corsets were not nearly as comfortable as today’s Spanx.
In one case, the dress worn by the model (Prospérie, wife of the artist) for In The Greenhouse (1881) is displayed. Albert Bartholomé painted the portrait of his wife in the polka dot dress in 1881. After her death in 1887, he abandoned painting, took up sculpture and preserved the dress, almost as a relic.
I especially enjoyed the detail on the gowns. Whereas I may have benefit of technology in sewing machines and computerized embroidery machines, the detail work on these gowns was all done by hand: pom-poms, lace, soutache, beading, fringe, ribbons, pleats and even tiny yo-yos. Lovely details! Appliqués. Embroidery. Oh, my. There was not one dress that I didn’t see something that could be interpreted and used on a modern dress. Several items inspired me to think that if I changed this a little, and did that, I could make a whatever, and wear it now.
My favorite garments? Prospérie Bartholomé’s gown. James Tissot’ s pleated white dress with yellow ribbons, (the same dress in two different works), the colorful shawl shown with a tan dress, the summery stripes on sheer cotton, several more of the polka dots, and most of all, a tan dress with black soutache trim.
The exhibit is open here from now until the 20th of January, 2013. If you love fashion and the Impressionists, make every effort to see this show. The exhibtion will travel to the Met and to Chicago in 2012. However, if you do come to Paris, let me know, and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to hear your impressions of the show. In the meantime, many of the details and the inspirations I took away with me will show up on my little dresses.