Photographer François Kollar

When searching for images for an upcoming post, I came across some interesting photographs by François Kollar. I wasn’t familiar with his work so I did some quick online research; sadly, not much is available online in English so I used my fifteen words of French and GoogleTranslate to learn more about him.

François Kollar was born in Slovakia in 1904 and immigrated to Paris in 1924, first working at the Renault factory but soon becoming interested in photography as a profession. He worked on a project in which he traveled to the departments of France to document French workers; the photos were exhibited in 1932 as “La France Travaille” at the Ministry of Beaux-Arts. The attention he garnered from this exhibition lead to his working as a commercial photographer; he published many fashion photographs in Harper’s Bazaar, and did advertisements for Chanel, Schiaparelli, Moët & Chandon, among others.

The photographs below are all from the French Ministry of Culture; the family donated the photos to the people of France. I encourage you to check out their website.

Madame Schiap

Madame Schiaparelli. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

Publicité pour les parfums Schiaparelli. Donation François Kollar, Ministère de la culture (France), Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN.

Publicité pour les parfums Schiaparelli. Donation François Kollar, Ministère de la culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN.

Fernande Kollar avec un bouquet de roses. Donation François Kollar, Ministère de la culture (France), Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN.

Fernande Kollar avec un bouquet de roses. Donation François Kollar, Ministère de la culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN.

Les mains de Coco Chanel. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

Les mains de Coco Chanel. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

Enseignement des arts ménagers : Démonstration en cuisine. Donation François Kollar, Ministère de la culture (France), Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN.

Enseignement des arts ménagers : Démonstration en cuisine. Donation François Kollar, Ministère de la culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN.

The tall woman in the photo above must be Julia Child!

Balenciaga : chapeau à voilette surmonté d'un oiseau. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

Balenciaga : chapeau à voilette surmonté d’un oiseau. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

La Duchesse de Windsor debout dans la vergère, portant une robe lamée. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

La Duchesse de Windsor debout dans la vergère, portant une robe lamée. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN.

Web Resources:
New York City Arts Francois Kollar: French Fashion Photography of the 1930s-40s
Hungarian House of Photography article about the bequest
Wikipédia article (in French)

Chanel Blues

Continuing my spring 2012 theme of no prints and no brights, I really like the blues the Chanel house used for their collection. The shades ranged from a pale ethereal blue to inky bluish-black. This season’s collection pays homage to Coco Chanel’s signature camellias, bows, and schoolgirl collars.

When I worked at the Austin Neiman-Marcus clearance center years ago, they occasionally received Chanel couture suits or gowns that hadn’t sold in the regular store. The workmanship and attention to detail was like nothing I’d ever seen. The linings were as beautiful as the outside of the garments. The jackets had a little chain along the hem to weigh down the  fabric so they hung properly. One time I tried on a sequined black evening dress that even at 75% off was beyond my budget but it was stunningly beautiful. I would love to find a vintage Chanel suit at a flea market in Paris but the days of finding that kind of treasure are long gone.

I actually like some pastels, just not on me.  

The flowers on this coat are wonderful.

I love the collar on this dresss, and the camellia is a nice touch.

Perfectly elegant evening dress with camellia on the shoulders.

Sparkly! With comfortable shoes – perfect! (Except for the hair…)

The first photo is from the Chanel website; the other images are from the French magazine, Au Feminin.

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Books, Wonderful Books

It’s been a long time since I devoted a whole post to books. What kind of librarian am I? Oh, a law librarian whose workaday book reading isn’t too exciting – statutes, regulations, and caselaw. But I do love books, particularly non-fiction. My cookbook collection gets most of my attention but I also like to buy books on travel, language, photography, and fashion. For novels, I use my local library.

Today my sweetie and I went to a book sale in our neighborhood. I was very restrained and only came home with one book, Méthode Boscher ou La journée des tout petits. It’s a French elementary school book that takes a child through the steps of learning letters and their sounds, and then syllables, and finally words. The illustrations are wonderful, with animals, fruits, and everyday objects scattered across the page. I’m sure this little treasure will help me in my neverending quest to actually learn French.

Continuing my fascination with all things French, I used a birthday gift to buy Jean Leymarie’s Chanel, the 2011 edition. It’s a biography of Mademoiselle Chanel, but so much more. The author explores the historical context of the fashion industry in Chanel’s time, and includes photographs and illustrations of not only her work, but relevant art and design. I’m enjoying reading about fashion history as much as the biography of this iconic designer.

My last new book is Penelope Rowland’s A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life In Fashion, Art, and Letters, also a birthday gift. Carmel Snow was the editor of Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 through 1958 and was influential in the careers of Lauren Bacall and Diana Vreeland, among many others. I know very little about Ms. Snow, so I’m looking forward to reading more.

And coming up this week – fashions for Spring 2012. Art shoes, white clothes, and fancy dresses.

A Favorite Designer: Coco Chanel

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” – Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

Coco Chanel is one of my fashion icons. I love the elegant yet livable clothing she designed, including the little black dress and women’s suits. My strands of fake pearls worn all at once with a black knit sweater and skirt are my homage to her style. I don’t own a Chanel suit but fantasize about finding one in a a Paris flea market. In the meantime, an occasional spray of Chanel No. 5 will have to do.

I really like this portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel; she’s so elegant. I always think of her clothing as black and cream, but as some of the photos below illustrate, she did use prints and color. The last photograph is a photograph inside her apartment in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. My sweetie and I couldn’t even get in the door without a white-gloved “non” from the security person.

Covo Chanel. Image from MINT Museum.

Wool knit dress circa 1924. Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening dress circa 1930. Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening dress, circa 1939. Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Cocktail suit, circa 1964. Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Appartement de Coco Chanel au Ritz : livre et lunettes. Image by François Kollar. Image courtesy of http://www.culture.gouv.fr/