The Novel of a Wardrobe The Parisian Chic from the Belle Epoque to the 1930S
Imagine stepping into one of Paris’s top Haute Couture houses in the early 20th century: Alice Alleaume, chief saleswoman from 1912 to 1923 at Chéruit, 21 Place Vendôme, welcomes you and offers to fulfil your wildest dreams. From 17 October 2013 to 16 March 2014 the Musée Carnavalet is home to an off-site exhibition by the Palais Galliera, the City of Paris Fashion Museum: The Novel of a Wardrobe: Parisian Chic from the Belle Epoque to the 1930s. On public display here for the first time, this remarkable wardrobe is that of Alice Alleaume herself. Dresses by Chéruit, Worth and Lanvin, evening shoes by Hellstern, hats by Alphonsine, Marcelle Demay, Madeleine Panizon and Le Monnier, evening headbands by Rose Descat, jewellery – and much more. The influence of Alleaume’s family; Chéruit and Place Vendôme; the professional life and the tastes of this fashionable Parisienne – these are the factors that orchestrate the exhibition. And gradually the entire world of French haute couture, with which Alleaume’s family was intimately connected from the Second Empire onwards, stands revealed. Manuscripts, documents, sales records and lists of clients bring back Alice, her ‘dress couturière‘ mother Adèle, and her older sister Hortense, herself chief saleswoman at Worth on Rue de la Paix. Loans of models and samples from the Paris Archives offer a parade of Chéruit summer and winter collections, while paintings and prints from the Musée Carnavalet conjure up those temples to luxury on Rue de la Paix and Place Vendôme before the First World War. In addition to its heritage character and sheer elegance, this collection – which recently entered the Palais Galliera – recounts the story of a family, a Parisienne and a couture house: the novel of a wardrobe, in other words.