La Vallée Village has always celebrated its relationship with culture, and not only through its art gallery exhibiting the works of both renowned artists such as Hervé di Rosa and Norman Parkinson and also young talents such as Christine Phung (featured in 2013). The Village has also celebrated this relationship through its role as Patron of the Arts, its continued support of the Grand Palais exhibition hall in Paris and its recent exhibitions related to fashion: by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun in 2015 to Irving Penn in 2017. And now La Vallée Village is reinforcing its passion for fashion with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. In partnership with La Vallée Village, the museum has created a new type of patronage based on the restoration of pieces from its textile collections – patient and unremitting work in the wings that brings the modernity of the past into the spotlight.
The story of style would never have survived without the patient devotion of museums. With their shared commitment to authenticity, La Vallée Village and the Museum of Decorative Arts have worked together to conserve five iconic masterpieces from the museum’s collections whose advanced deterioration had prevented them from being shown to the public.
These exceptional garments each relate a different story: from that of one of Marie Antoinette’s readers to that of Andrée Spinelly, an extravagant actress of the Belle Époque. The in-depth examination of the pieces – sometimes requiring innovative techniques – and their restoration has all the excitement of a period police investigation with a happy ending.
These newly restored masterpieces will be exhibited from 22 September to 22 October 2017 in the Period Rooms of the museum.
The silk dress with a floral chain motif and decorative trimmings (c. 1770) would have belonged to a reader to Marie Antoinette, possibly the young Sidonie Laborde, who remained in the service of the queen until her death. During their walks in the parks, places to see and be seen, ladies of the French aristocracy in the late eighteenth century frequently wore “pastoral clothes”.
Thought to have been worn by a French aristocrat of the Royal Court in the first half of the sixteenth century, this cape in red velvet with gold embroidery is one of the oldest and rarest items in the collection (there are less than a dozen in the world). Badly damaged, the material had to be strengthened and lined, and its sequins sewn on one by one.
A rare item, this wide-brimmed hat is decorated with small pendants in silk flowers, which were typically believed to be woven with pumpkin-type fibres. On closer examination, they were in fact revealed to be hibiscus fibres!
Charles Frederick Worth is generally considered to be the inventor of Parisian haute couture. At the end of the nineteenth century, he was the first to sign his creations, and to design collections twice a year. It was he who created this orange silk dress with feather motifs, a dress of particularly luxurious quality, commissioned by Mrs Franklin-Gordon Dexter.
One of the period fashion muses was Andrée Spinelly, a famous actress of the Belle Époque and friend of designer Paul Poiret. The research required for the restoration of this embroidered silk velvet tunic dress uncovered a photo of this dress with accessories, made in 1922 by the designer for ‘Spi’. This made an outfit (dress and accessories) composed before its time. The challenge for the restorer was to reduce the fabric stains and separate the amalgam of fabric hairs.