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The Trousseau of the May Queen

Nov 23, 2009
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The big Vionnet exhibit in Paris at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs is, deservedly, attracting lots of attention. It presents a spectacular overview of Madeleine Vionnet’s brilliant career. But, there’s a complementary exhibit in Paris at the moment as well: The trousseau of the Italian princess Marie-Jose of Savoy at the Mona Bismarck Foundation Paris Cultural Center. It’s been little publicized, but it’s equally stunning. Fortunately, my friend Didier Ludot (he of vintage couture fame), mentioned it to me when I was with him the other day in Paris, saying what a perfect addition it would to the Vionnet exhibit. Both exhibits focus strongly on gowns of the 1930’s, after all. And my goodness, was he right! You’ll see by the photos below just how special the exhibit is. I have a feeling that the beautiful Marie-José of Savoy was the Princess Diana of her day, and the gorgeous garments (all sewn in Italy, in the manner of the French haute couture) shown at the exhibit are what she wore after her 1930 wedding to Umberto II until she left Italy in 1946, after the war. Fortunately, her attendants had carefully packed away her finery, and sixty years later, the…

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  1. fotofashion December 7th

    I should have looked at the website of the Vionnet exhibition before commenting. There IS a book offered in conjunction with the exhibit. Madeleine Vionnet, puriste de la mode. 304 pages,306 illustrations. 55 euros. ISBN: 978-2-916914-13-8

  2. fotofashion December 7th

    operadraper: Although the book I have is not generated by the exhibit, there is a book about Vionnet. It is entitled: Madeline Vionnet. Author is Betty Kirke. Publisher is Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-1997-3 Warning, the book is rather expensive but it is not only about her fashions, it is about her, her life, her fashion business, etc. And it is a coffee table size.
    I was fortunate to buy the book at a discounted price as it was offered to us in college studying Fashion Design.

  3. JanFan123 December 2nd

    This is gorgeous, a divine pleasure to see. Thank you for sharing them with us.
    Sewingmonk: There is more detail of each design in English here

  4. User avater shaedee December 2nd

    The work is exquisite and the styles so ageless, its awesome.

  5. lheck1108 December 1st

    Isn't it so strange how much skin is shown these days on the gowns, when back in the day, really so little was shown, and yet the gowns were done in such wonderful taste, and must say looked just as sexy as they do toady, and maybe even more so.

  6. WhiteBow December 1st

    You can look at the website here:

    and order the exhibit catalog here:é-Savoie-Reine-Luciano-Regolo/dp/2873862416/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259697333&sr=1-1

    Gorgeous! Thank you, Susan, for bringing this to our attention!

  7. sewingmonk December 1st

    The Vionnet exhibit has a catalogue available on the website, but it is in French only. I already inquired if it would be available in an English edition. I guess the language doesn't effect the beauty of the photographed garments too much ! Such talent ... it would be a wonderful afternoon just studying the pictures.

  8. perendales December 1st

    Vionnet's work is truly stunning. Whenever I see photos of it, I want to see more. Wouldn't it be wonderful if an exhibit such as this toured the US where the rest of us could see it?

  9. operadraper November 30th

    both of these are amazing! the detail is mind blowing.

    Any idea if either show has a book that goes with? I would love to have a coffee table version of these dresses -- they are simply beautiful.

  10. PetalRose November 23rd

    How fascinating that a gorgeous collection like this has survived. It makes me wish I lived in Europe and could see couture vintage like this. I am in awe of the sewing skill of that era.

  11. sews4fun November 23rd

    Simply stunning! Thank You for sharing these beautiful gowns with us, I can't stop looking at them!

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