Saturday, July 16, 2011

Phoenix Art Museum...Theatre De La Mode

I'm so glad that I had the chance to visit the Phoenix Art Museum while in AZ. Things just happened in such a way that I had a day all to myself. It was wonderful. During the AAFCS conference I heard some of the ladies talking about an Exhibit that was currently on display of 1/2 scale mannequins with designer clothes.

I was intrigued so when I realized that I would have a day to myself I knew I had to figure out which of the several Museum's in downtown Phoenix it was. Luckily I found an article of an Exhibit that sounded what the ladies were talking about at the Phoenix Art Museum. I arrived and asked about the Exhibit and she showed me a map and told me where to find their "Ellman Fashion Gallery".

It was up stairs in the South Wing, which didn't connect with the Main level North wing the entrance is at. So I decided to take my time and tour the museum section by section and I'll get there when I get there.

I went through their Renaissance and Baroque, 18th Century European, 17th Century Northern European, Spanish Colonial, 19th Century European, American, Western American and Western Contemporary. I loved that you were allowed to take pictures, we only picture of what they owned. So if the Phoenix Art Museum owned the work and therefore owned the Rights, they gave you the right to photograph it. There were plenty of pieces of Work on lone so those had a sticker of a camera with a big red circle and line through it, and those you couldn't photograph obviously. There was some wonderful pieces:


There is this large wonderful circular sculpture a convex and concave sphere:


The imagery that you get from it is amazing:


And then I got to were I was going, and found "Theatre De La Mode" (no picture allowed) here is the scan of the brochure:


It was amazing post WWII era fashion from various French Designers of the time. Done it 1/3 scale (actually) every detail on each of the dolls is amazing, they all had Jewelry, Shoes, Hats and handbags. All in 1/3 scale. 

The story of how these dolls came to be is even more amazing:

"Liberation in the fall of 1944 after four years of foreign Occupation found Paris surviving on minimal resources. Hoping to make a statement to the world that Paris was still the center of fashion, couturiers, jewelers, milliners, hairdressers, and theatre designers joined together to present the Theatre de la Mode.

Using the ages-old tradition of traveling miniature mannequins dressed in current couture, the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture mobilized a whole industry with unprecedented cooperation and creativity to prove that life could begin again through these 27" tall ambassadors of fashion. The exhibition, inaugurated in Paris in March 1945, began a long journey, first to other capitals in Europe and Great Britain, then in 1946 to the United States.

When the little ambassadors had served their mission, their valuable jewelry was sent back to Paris and they were abandoned, packed away in the basement of a department store in San Francesco. Paul Verdier and Alma Spreckels rescured them in 1952, and arranged for them to be sent to the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington. They were exhibited behind glass, appreciated by only limited audiences until "rediscovered" by historian Stanley Garfinkel in 1983." Back cover of the Theatre de la Mode Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture a Plamer/Pletsch Publication.

Each year 3 of the 9 sets are on Display at the Maryhill Museum of Art, While a few of the sets a lent out for Exhibit to other Museums I'm so glad that I was able to be at the right place at the right time to be able to know of the existence of these wonderful Haute Couture Treasures!!!!

I've now added Goldendale Washington to my list of places to visit (not sure exactly were that is, but I'll be figuring it out very soon!!) I must see the rest of these dolls.  There were 237 original dolls made of which 65 are currently missing.

2 comments:

PatriciaD said...

How totally awesome. I cannot sew (or don't) sew all that much but have been fascinated by what causes fashion to change over the year (or at least in past years). I wend to an awesome fashion history museum in London (I think it was London - GR at least) and so much of fashion changed immediately when a new monarch came to power. Neck lines, hem lines, furs, etc. It can be a real fascination. Anyway, loved your story of your visit and so glad you had a day all to yourself to indulge. LOVE IT!!

Sonia Barton said...

Thank you Patricia. Next to French Costume I love British Costume and History. I would love to take such a trip.

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