Paris Haute Couture Exhibit


One of the highlights of my trip to Paris was a visit to the Paris Haute Couture exhibit curated by the Galliera, Musee de la Mode de Ville de Paris. The museum building is undergoing renovation so it has been presenting exhibits in various spots in Paris. I happened to be in Paris for the exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall.)

Swarovski has provided support for the exhibit; many of the gowns are embellished with Swarovski beads. According to the Swarovski Facebook page, in 1895, Daniel Swarovski invented a revolutionary technique for cutting and polishing crystal, and in 1900 began collaborating with haute couture designers. Designers who made use of Swarovski crystals include Worth, Lanvin, Chanel and Schiaparelli. In the 1950s, Jacques Fath and Cristóbal Balenciaga were extravagant in their use of crystal in their collections.

©Marc Verhille / Mairie de Paris

©Marc Verhille / Mairie de Paris

Many of the dresses were enclosed in glass cases because of their fragility and because they’re valuable. They were organized chronologically, which illustrated the changes of style over time. No photography was allowed so I’ve used photographs from the Mayor of Paris, Swarovski, and the Museum.

Beer, silk evening dress, circa 1912. Collection Musée Galliera ©Galliera

This cream silk gown is embellished with lace, pearl paillettes, and crystal beads. 


Chanel silk evening dress, 1923 © Collection Musée Galliera

I was surprised at how different this looks than what I expected a Chanel gown to look like. The colors are beautiful and it shimmers so beautifully.

Patou nuit de chine

Jean Patou, robe du soir, 1925. Collection Musée Galliera

The details on this Jean Patou evening dress are stunning. I envision a flapper dancing the night away at a lavish party, drinking lots of champage.

Worth tea gown

Worth, tea gown, circa 1895. Collection Musée Galliera

It was interesting to see how heavy this material looked compared to the gowns in the 1920s and 1930s. And who would get this dressed up for tea?

© musée Galliera, Ville de Paris, droits réservés, 2013

Jérôme, robe du soir, vers 1925. (détail) © musée Galliera, Ville de Paris, droits réservés, 2013

This 1925 dress by Jérôme is embellished with colored crystal beads, silver threads, faux pearl beads, and bright blue feathers. This was one of my favorites.


Jérôme, robe du soir, vers 1925. (détail) Collection Musée Galliera

Additional Resources

Mayor of Paris Google+ page with additional photographs.

Judy Fayard’s WSJ article about the exhibit


One thought on “Paris Haute Couture Exhibit

  1. Pingback: Joyeux Anniversaire, Elsa Schiaparelli! | Tweed Librarian

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