February 12, 2014

Dreaming of the Belle Epoche

It felt like stepping into one of Paris's top Haute Couture houses in the early 20th century. The Musée Carnevalet was home to an off-site exhibition by the Palais Galliera entitled "The Novel of a Wardrobe: Parisian Chic from the Belle Epoque to the 1930s." How could I resist?

The remarkable wardrobe was that of Alice Alleaume, the chief saleswoman at Chéruit on chic Place Vendôme from 1912 to 1923. 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 were on display.

Manuscripts and documents, book logs and client lists revived Alice, Adele, her mother (a seamstress) and Hortense, her older sister, herself first salesperson at Worth's in rue de la Paix. Thanks to the models and samples of the Archives of Paris we could relive the Chéruit summer and winter collections, while the museums' paintings and prints evoked the atmosphere of Rue de la Paix and Place Vendôme - both temples of luxury - before the war of 1914 - 1918.

A little reverie never hurt anybody...

Portrait of Mme Alice Alleaume

Mme Alice Alleaume with friends in front of a beachhut, 1925

Worth's salesforce around 1900

Livret d'ouvière (Registration book of employées)
Profession: Couturière en robes

Salesforce of Maison Favre around 1910

Salon de Mme C. around 1910

Hats recovered from Mme C salon at the Musée Carnevalet in 2014

A model from Chéruit's summer collection 1920

A piece of bijouterie that made me smile...

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