Face-Dos-Profil: Paris exhibit unearths rare archival fashion ephemera from 1931

Day dress by Madeleine Vionnet, 3 February 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris, DU12U10 642

For anyone who has studied 30s-era couture, the lookbook-esque photos that feature in the Musée Galliera’s latest* hors-des-murs exhibition will seem familiar; the actual reasoning behind them, perhaps not.  1931: Face-Dos-Profil, hosted at the Crédit Municipal de Paris in the heart of the Marais, features a selection of photographs, design sketches, and actual garments culled from the more than 10,000 garments and accessories submitted to the Prud’hommes of Paris for copyright protection in the year 1931.  Spearheaded by designers like Madeleine Vionnet [so notoriously fastidious about protecting her designs that she left an inked thumbprint on internal clothing labels], these Face-Dos-Profil (Front, Side, Back) photos documented the first sample of each design, each season, and were subsequently submitted for official registration and filing [with the prud’hommes de Paris].  Now housed at the Archives de Paris, this vast and rare collection offers not only a meticulous visual analysis of garment and accessory construction of dresses long gone (or sitting fragile in museum archives and private collections) but the beginning of couture’s l’age d’or.

Through 6 July 2013 at the Galerie du Crédit Municipal de Paris, 55 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75004. Open Monday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm.  Below, a series of images and sketches on display.

*This is not officially apart of the Hors-des-Murs series but is an off-site exhibited curated by the Musée Galliera’s Director of Photography, Sylvie Lécallier, in collaboration with the Archives de Paris.

“Joli Coeur” Hat by Maison Agnès, July 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris, DU12U10 365

Design sketch of Beach Pajamas by the Callot Soeurs, May 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris, DU1210 171 

Evening Dress by Schiaparelli, March 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris, DU1210 324

Evening Dress by Paquin, August 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris, DU12U10 297

Evening cape in fur by Mainbocher, 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris 

Beach Pajamas by Jean Patou, 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris

Design Sketch of Beach Pajamas, Molyneux et Cie, March 1931, Photo © Archives de Paris, DU1210 590

-Kelly Miller 

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  • Great dresses… Quite interesting content..
    Thanks for this post