Monday, August 26, 2013

Revisiting the Théâtre de la Mode, part III: Le Jardin Marveilleux

The second scene from the Théâtre de la Mode currently being shown at the Maryhill Museum is Le Jardin Marveilleux (The Marvelous Garden).

The Marvelous Garden at Maryhill. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
The designer of this delightful and somewhat surreal set was Jean-Denis Malclès. The current scene is the recreation by Anne Surger. 

The Garden as it appeared in 1945
Malclès was a painter, stage designer, costumer and illustrator. He was a master of magical effects and he gave his all to Le Jardin Marveilleux.

Jean-Denis Malclès. Photo by Béla Bernand
You may notice that the images of the sets dating from 1945 include clothing different from that on display now. The clothing of 1945 was replaced for the exhibit’s tour in 1946 because the couturiers wanted the fashion to be the very latest of their styles.

In the current display you will see an evening dress by Mad Carpentier with a yellow silk chiffon bodice embroidered with blue beads, old rose lamé and mother-of-pearl sequins...tiny versions of the couturier’s usual embellishments. The skirt is lilac tulle over a pink underskirt. 

Dress by Carpentier. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
Dress by Heim, evening coat by Bruyère
In front of the beautiful bridal gown by Paquin (yes, those are minute covered buttons down the bodice front) is a shadowy figure in one of the most outstanding outfits of the 1946 version of the exhibit.

Wedding gown by Paquin, outfit by Balmain, Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
Created by Balmain, the original was lost and considered essential to recreate.

Here is the ensemble as illustrated by René Gruau in 1946. The long cord holds the drape of the dress:

And here the designer of the dolls, Eliane Bonabel, shows this Balmain doll to Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland, in New York in the spring of 1946.

At the right of the Garden scene is a stunning gown of black silk with a green silk under skirt by Madame Grès. Exhibited alongside is another narrow silhouette. It was called “Caran d’Ache” by its creator, Jacques Fath. Designers were experimenting with both sheath silhouettes and the very full skirts which presaged the New Look of 1947.

Dresses by Grès and Fath. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
I was amazed by the miniature scale of the jacquard used for a gown by Bruyère. If only we could see her feet, shod in matching fabric and bordeaux leather shoes! All the shoes you are able to see are miniature masterpieces. 

Dress by Bruyère. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
Some of the tiny shoes on display. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fabric of the week: Burn-out fabric

Are you burned out on fabric? No I’m not either. On the other hand, here is a fabric that is burned out.

Burn-out fabric 

Burn-out (burned-out, burnt-out) fabric is woven of more than one fiber type, then printed with a chemical that will destroy the surface fiber, leaving the ground intact. The result is a fabric patterned with a distinct surface and ground. The ground is usually sheer. 
Velvet is probably the most common type of burn-out fabric. Dévoré (literally “devoured”) velvet is synonymous. 
Uses: Evening wear, bridal, scarves 
See also:

Burn-out velvet
Dévoré velvet
Façonné velvet
, Velvet

Burn-out fabric (1930s)
Burn-out velvet (1930s)
©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain,  photos by Hoyt Carter

I’ve just listed this 1920s burn-out velvet dress in my Etsy shop:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School shoes, vintage-style

When I was a kid I did not look forward to the summer coming to an end. I think the only thing I really loved about going back to school was The New Pair of Shoes. I always loved my new school shoes and can remember them well.

I just listed this pair of shoes that reminds me of shoes I picked out when I was young.

I guess it was my ballet classes that made me want to turn my toes out (something I don’t find so easy anymore!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Revisiting the Théâtre de la Mode, part II: La Grotte Enchantée

The first set as you walk into the Maryhill Museum’s current exhibit of the Théâtre de la Mode is a copy (all the sets were lost and many were recreated) of the set by the youngest artist involved in the project, André Beaurepaire.

Beaurepaire’s set, La Grotte Enchantée (The Enchanted Grotto) was created by the 20-year old French painter, designer and illustrator. André Beaurepaire became an outstanding French artist of the postwar period. He was the last of the Théâtre participants living—dying just last year at the age of 88.

 André Beaurepaire working on his set. Photo by Béla Bernand.
The 1945 Grotte Enchantée, courtesy Le Blog de Cameline
The Grotto scene at Maryhill Museum today, with the reconstructed set by Anne Surgers. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
In this set are some truly gasp-worthy costumes. These are the original creations, being modeled by the original dolls.

From the left of the scene, there is a long ivory dinner dress with elbow-length dolman sleeves, the bodice entirely embroidered in bronze and mother-of-pearl sequins, by Worth. 

Lucile Manguin’s long dinner dress features a long-sleeved black velvet spencer and full organza skirt with criss-crossing black lace. The doll holds a tiny pink taffeta handkerchief edged in black lace.

Gowns by Worth, Manguin, Renal and (mostly hidden) Patou. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain

The gorgeous evening gown by Georgette Renal has a white tulle skirt trimmed with widening bands of satin. Nina Ricci designed the black satin evening dress with leg-of-mutton sleeves. Its fitted bodice has a set-in yoke of pale pink satin embroidered with old-gold sequins. The full skirt has a longer pink satin underskirt.

The  Manguin, Renal and Patou again, with the Ricci. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain

While each of the dresses (not to mention accessories and hairstyles) are truly incredible in this set, the gown at front and center definitely is worthy of its place on the stage. It was designed by Balenciaga of raspberry satin embroidered with tiny pearls and ruby beads. The doll wears a matching pillbox hat.

Dress by Balenciaga. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
Dresses by Patou, Balenciaga and Ricci, evening coat by Issartel. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
I wish I could have seen better the Jean Patou dress, “Fleurs de Mal,” shown to the left of the Balenciaga. This evening dress has a short-sleeved black tulle bodice embroidered in black sequins. The slim pink wrap skirt is asymmetrically draped. The doll’s shoes are pink fabric and black leather ankle wrap sandals. To the right of the Balenciaga is an Italian Renaissance-inspiration evening coat by Blanche Issartel. It is made of ivory satin with a silver pattern. The coat is worn over a long gold lamé sheath dress. See those tiny gloves? They are white suede. (Click on the photos to see them larger.)

To the right of the scene is a bright red organdy evening dress by Madame Grès. The turban and veil are of pale green organdy with kingfisher feathers, coral beads and rhinestones. 

The black and silver paisley brocade evening coat was designed by Mad Carpentier. It is a full-skirted redingote with large puffed sleeves. The doll’s equally striking toque is black velvet and tulle embroidered with sequins and jet and trimmed with feathers.

Dresses by Grès and Carpentier. Photo by M. Wilds/denisebrain
The Théâtre de la Mode was conceived as a way to express French couture’s preeminence, even as it struggled to hold itself together during and just after the Nazi occupation of Paris. This scene’s elaborate, elegant, minutely-detailed, gorgeously-designed and heart-meltingly optimistic creations succeed in reaching, even surpassing their goal. I had to sit and look at these dolls for a long time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Revisiting the Théâtre de la Mode

Created in Paris starting in 1944, the Théâtre de la Mode is a work of haute couture, theater and art, with stage sets and dolls designed and created by artists, and fashions by over 55 design houses. During WWII, they came together for the survival of haute couture.

Some of the clothing designers who dressed these artful dolls in miniature versions of their best and most current fashions include Balmain, Balenciaga, Fath, Hermès, Lanvin, Paquin, Schiaparelli and Ricci.

A couple years ago I was able to visit the Maryhill Museum and its display of the Théâtre de la Mode. The museum shows three sets at a time, rotating between groups every few years. The museum has recently expanded and plans to show all the sets at one time, although the date is not yet in the calendar for this change.

When I first saw the exhibit, I wrote a seven-post series about the Théâtre:

My visit to the Théâtre de la Mode, part I

Théâtre de la Mode, part II: The Dolls

Théâtre de la Mode, part III: The Sets

Théâtre de la Mode, part IV: The Fashion Designers

Théâtre de la Mode, part V: Down to the Tiniest Details

Théâtre de la Mode, part VI: Loss & Rebirth—Again

Théâtre de la Mode, part VII: Seeing the Exhibit at Maryhill

Recently I was able to visit Maryhill again, and was treated to seeing a different rotation of sets. 

The current exhibit’s entrance

Please visit these Théâtre de la Mode sets with me in upcoming posts.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fabric term of the week: Flocked fabric

Flock is a word you know as a number of birds together, or congregants at a church, or sheep, or tourists. I don’t blame you if you don’t know the fabric is often missing from regular dictionaries.

Flocked fabric 

Flock is the name given to very short fibers, either from fabric-making waste or created from rags. A flocked fabric is one on which flocking has been applied with an adhesive, either all over or in a pattern. A common flocked print is dotted swiss. Any fabric weight can be used. 
Flocked fabrics have improved, but the all-over flocked (velvet-like) fabrics can be fairly stiff. Flocking also has the tendency to wear off. 
Uses: Dresses, household decoration, aprons 
See also:
Dotted swiss

Flocked organdy
Flocked voile
©Vintage Fashion Guild - Text by Margaret Wilds/denisebrain,  photos by Hoyt Carter

Currently in my Etsy shop: 50s iridescent taffeta dress and bolero with flocked paisley pattern

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hooray for the manatees!

The manatee hugger is back to give my customers and supporters a great big manatee hug for your incredible generosity, encouragement and enthusiasm! We have made it over the goal, with every extra dollar also going to the Save the Manatee Club. Last night I sent the payment for the manatee tracking monitor, so it can get right to work.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Denisebrain has the best customers! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Last day for the manatees

Did that title worry you?

I am always worried about manatees—I wouldn’t want to live on a planet without them. 

My goal is to complete raising the funds for a manatee tracking monitor by the end of tomorrow. If you haven’t already contributed at my page, or purchased from my shops (1/3 of your purchase going to this cause) this is the time. We are 90% of the way there with 24 hours to go.

Man versus Manatee (, used by permission

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Twiggy—no not THAT Twiggy

I love that Twiggy, and her inimitable embodiment of the 1960s, but I’m back to remind you of the manatees, specifically the other Twiggy, an orphaned baby manatee rescued in Belize.

As you might know, I’m raising $795 for a manatee tracking monitor for Wildtracks in Belize, partners in the endangered manatees’ survival with the Florida-based Save the Manatee Club.

Twiggy was rescued in Belize as a very thin (thus the name) orphan. She has been given exceptional help by the volunteers that run and staff Wildtracks.

Jamal Galves holds Twiggy after she is rescued near Heusner Island in Belize. She weighed just 56 pounds at the time. (Photo courtesy Sea Sport.)
Please read this message from Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation, Save the Manatee Club:
There’s an African proverb that translates to “It takes a village to raise a child.” I also believe it takes a village to raise an orphan baby manatee. For more than two years, you, our members and supporters, have been contributing funds and supplies to help Twiggy, a small baby manatee who washed up on the shore in Belize, motherless, with oyster shell cuts all over her face from struggling in shallow water, lacking the energy to protect herself. Twiggy was terribly skinny (which is how she got her name), and in serious need of help. With your help, this fragile baby manatee has grown and gained strength, and now she is preparing for her next big adventure—release back into the wild. 
I need the help of the village one more time, to ensure Twiggy’s safe release.  
Twiggy needs to be fitted with a satellite transmitter around the base of her tail so that her movements can be tracked after release. We use the same technology on manatees in Florida. These tags, and the monthly monitoring fees to follow her movements, come with a heavy price tag. All told, we are looking at a cost of $7,200. It was expected that Twiggy could use a borrowed tag, but when this tag recently became unavailable, the folks at Wildtracks, where Twiggy was rehabilitated, were faced with the possibility of releasing Twiggy without this vital piece of equipment. We couldn't let that happen! We have all worked so hard to give Twiggy the care and support she needs to succeed—we couldn't let her down now. 
Please help me continue to inch toward the goal of raising $795 for a manatee tracking monitor for Belize, to be used to track and insure manatees’ acclimation to the wild once released. Twiggy has made a major impact on might say she is a rock star. Please help Twiggy’s beloved and endangered species with your purchase from my shops or by direct contribution at my YouCaring page.

Friday, August 2, 2013