Wednesday, June 8, 2011

fashion mini

Upstairs at the Maryhill Museum we founded an unexpected and unique collection of fashion dolls all wearing highly-detailed Parisian outfits from the 1940s.

Their history goes something like this:

It's a story of couturiers, set designers, milliners, shoe and glove makers, jewelry designers and other artisans joining together after WWII to create a show of their fashions in miniature: Théâtre de la Mode.  Nina Ricci’s son Robert first conceived the idea as a way to showcase Paris’s fashion industry while raising money for war victims. The 27" tall dolls and their sets toured major cities of Europe and the United States, beginning in Paris and ending in 1946 in San Francisco. There, after the exhibit closed, jewels worn by the dolls were sent back to France, the sets were presumably destroyed, and the dolls disappeared into storage in the basement of the City of Paris Department Store. Rescued in 1952, the dolls were donated to a new museum, Maryhill Museum of Art in southern Washington.

The dolls were indeed “perfection in miniature,” lacking not a single exquisite detail for which the great haute couture Parisian houses were world famous.

What a fun exhibit and I'm glad our camera was able to capture these great mini fashions under the low-light conditions.  They definitely reminded me of some of my grandmother's fashion sketches from about this era.