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Maryhill Museum

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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

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

(For the start of this on again-off again series on the Théâtre de la Mode, please see my blog of March 14, My visit to the Théâtre de la Mode, part 1.)

As I wrote in my first post about the Théâtre, it is permanently housed at the Maryhill Museum of Art and there are no plans for it to tour again from what I can tell. The current Théâtre de la Mode rotation features the three sets I have described in previous posts, including that very haunting Cocteau.

The museum is open 7 days a week, including all holidays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 15 through November 15. It is 100 miles from Portland and not terribly far from any place in the states of Washington and Oregon. The Maryhill Museum website should give you all the information you need to plan a visit. It is an enchanting destination, for more than even the Théâtre; I love the peacocks that strut the grounds!

My red jacket alongside a red jacket by Worth (photo, denisebrain)


Postlude:

Here I was in the presence of this miniature masterpiece of Parisian art and fashion in a museum on the edge of a precipice overlooking the Columbia River, 5,294 miles from Paris.

I carried a very small package with me in my bag when I visited Maryhill. In it was a pair of vintage black gloves marked "Made in France," boxed up to mail to the buyer, who happens to live in Paris. It suddenly seemed like a somewhat smaller world.

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My visit to the Théâtre de la Mode, part I


Taking a closer look at an ivory silk damask evening dress by Worth in a set designed by Jean Cocteau (photo, denisebrain)

I've never been to France, but recently had the feeling of traveling through both time and space to the Paris of 1944-46. The occasion was a visit to the ongoing exhibition of the Théâtre de la Mode at the Maryhill Museum of Art near the town of Goldendale, Washington.

The museum stands quite alone, a grand chateau located on a precipice overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

A view from the Maryhill Museum grounds on the cold November day I visited (photo, denisebrain)
It is home to an eclectic collection of art, including the Théâtre.

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. 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.

I'll be writing more about this incredible exhibit as I get a chance in the next several months.


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