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Majesty & Mystery: Saving a Napoleonic Court Gown

Start Date 05 February 2019
End Date 13 April 2019
Venue FIDM Museum
Location Los Angeles, USA
Curator Kevin Jones
A white empress-style dress is worn on a white mannequin. Illustrated pattern cuttings are printed onto the wall behind the dress. The caption 'PIECING HISTORY TOGETHER' is printed near the bottom of the wall in large font.

After a distinguished military career and surprising coup d’état, Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was crowned Emperor of France on December 2, 1804. Beside him at the coronation was his wife Marie-Joseph-Rose de Tascher de la Pagerie de Beauharnais (1763-1814), whom he called “Joséphine.” Emperor Napoléon’s reign lasted until 1815; together, he and Empress Joséphine ushered in a remarkable new era of artistic expression. A strict dress code was mandated at royal court functions and the Empress was the ultimate arbiter of style. The astonishingly rare Napoleonic court ensemble at the focus of this intimate exhibition was worn by a high-ranking member of the imperial circle – possibly even the Empress herself.