Friday, 6 February 2015

Paris is Always a Good Idea: Parisian Chic at MoDA

MoDA's Curator, Sim Panaser, is transported to the couture houses of 1920s Paris...

This week in the Museum of Design and Architecture collections store I came across the most luxurious fashion magazines I had ever seen.  I was searching for something else entirely but these three magazines dating from the mid 1920s stopped me in my tracks and I thought they needed sharing! 

Front Covers of Art, Goût, Beauté, BADDA 4297-4298 Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

Art, Goût, Beauté (Art, Good Taste and Beauty) is was published from 1920-1933 in Paris. It was circulated in over 35 countries and published in French, Spanish and English. Its spectacular hand-coloured illustrations together with its detailed commentary on fashions by Parisian couture designers including Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin and Jean Patou, ensured its readers were kept up to date with the must-have styles from the fashion capital of the world.  As the catalogue for the 1925 Paris Exhibition stated, ‘there is not a woman who does not dream of being dressed in Paris’.

The magazine was not only an advertisement for French couture, it was founded by the French textile manufacturers Albert Godde Bedin et Cie and provided worldwide publicity for the company.  Art, Goût, Beauté regularly featured couture dresses made using Albert Godde Bedin et Cie fabrics, this aligned the company with high fashion and the Paris elite giving it a commercial advantage over other textile manufacturers.  

Dresses for Dancing, Art, Goût, BeautéBADDA 4298, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

The Art Deco illustrations found inside the Art, Goût, Beauté are superb and are what the magazine is best known for.  Although the magazine is litho printed the illustrations are hand-coloured using a technique known as pochoir, which is a stencil-based technique used to apply colour to pre-existing prints. Little is known about the individual illustrators who sometimes signed their colour plates in Art, Goût, Beauté.

The illustrations focus on the details of the clothing and use stylised models to ensure the focus remains on the dresses.  Although the pochoir technique gives clean and flat areas of colour, in the illustration above the movement of the dress is captured by using two tones of the same colour. 

                                    Art, Goût, Beauté, BADDA 4299, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 
'At first sight, the summer creations look very much like those of winter.  The difference is in the cut, biases, panels, flounces and pleats'. 

Designer Jean Patou favoured angular and straight cuts in the early 1930s, seen here in the illustration on the left.  He designed understated clothing that was worn by youthful socialites.  In contrast Paul Poiret's design, show here on the right reflect historical influences with its pagoda sleeves. Poiret like many artists of the period was fascinated by the lure of the 'Orient'. 

There are so many fabulous illustrations in Art, Goût, Beauté  it was difficult to select which ones to post.  Below is a selection of my favourite images.  I highly recommend coming to the Museum of Design and Architecture to see these for yourself.  You can view our collections by making an appointment.  Appointments are open to all and available Monday to Friday.  As well as magazines and ephemera we have extensive collections of wallpapers, textiles and designs. Please contact us to book an appointment or if you would like further information.     

We also have over 20 dress fabric sample books from the Parisian textile company J Claude Freres et Cie dating from the 1950s should you wish to linger in Paris a little longer too!  

Art, Goût, Beauté, BADDA 4297, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

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