Photo of the Week

Paris-Update-view-from-louvre

Left to right: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Pyramid, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and Ferris Wheel. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Drawing through the ages

Paris-Update-Matisse-les-pommes
"Apples" (1944), by Henri Matisse. Eric Coatalem Gallery.

> Salon du Dessin: 39 galleries showing works on paper, from Old Masters to contemporary. Palais Brogniart, Paris, March 22-27.

Contemporary drawing fair
> Drawing Now: 73 galleries, Carreau du Temple, Paris, March 23-26.

More contemporary drawings
>Ddessin: 20 galleries. Atelier Richelieu, Paris, March 24-26.

Art and design fair
> PAD (Paris Art + Design),
67 galleries, Tuileries Garden, Paris, March 22-26.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, March 23-May 28.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Audrey Dana's Si j'Étais un Homme, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, Feb. 24.

Documentary film festival
> Cinéma du Réel showcases documentaries from around the world. Various venues, Paris, March 24-April 2.

Suburban blues
> The Banlieues Bleues festival brings major French and international jazz acts to the Paris suburbs. Various venues, through March 31.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

Save

Save

Save  

Art - Temporary Exhibitions

 

La Mode Retrouvée: Les Robes Trésors de la Comtesse Greffulhe

Living the Good Life,
Posing for Proust

ParisUpdate-GREFFULHE GALLIERA 0569

Dresses belonging to the Comtesse Greffulhe, with an 1891 portrait of her by Paul-César Helleu in the background.

“God, what a bore it is to have to dress up and go out when one would ever so much rather stay at home,” the Duchess de Guermantes says ingenuously in Marcel Proust’s novel A la Recherche du Temps Perdu in response to a friend’s admiration of her sequined red-satin ball gown. But dress up and go out she certainly did. And so did the real-life model for

ParisUpdate-Greffulhe-Galliera-10 Hellstern  Sons, souliers

Shoes by Hellstern & Sons (c. 1900-10). © Galliera / Roger-Viollet

the character in Proust’s novel: the Comtesse Greffulhe. Her lavish wardrobe, so lovingly described by Proust, has survived and is the subject of the exhibition “La Mode Retrouvée: Les Robes Trèsor de la Comtesse Greffulhe” at the Palais Galliera.

Comtesse Greffulhe, the queen of Parisian aristocratic society for half a century, lived through the end of the Second Empire, two republics, two world wars, the Belle Epoque and the Roaring Twenties.

A trophy wife, married at 18 to the very rich and apparently quite nasty Viscount Henry Greffulhe, she was a celebrity mover and shaker of her times, supporting music, dance, science and Captain Dreyfus. But it was her legendary beauty and elegance that inspired Proust and the greatest couturiers of her time.

In the exhibitions, dresses designed by Charles Frederick Worth, Mariano Fortuny, Vitaldi

ParisUpdate-GREFFULHE GALLIERA 0605

Babani, Jeanne Lanvin and others are simply displayed on stands, leaving you wondering at the slenderness of the countess’s waist and marvelling at the workmanship and design.

Her taste was sure, and her elegance traversed changing fashions. Exceptional items are well displayed and explained, among them the “Russian Cape,” a traditional garment from Uzbekistan, a gift of Czar Nicolas the Second that was transformed by Worth into a

ParisUpdate-GREFFULHE GALLIERA 0569

On the left, the “Russian Cape,” reworked by Worth.

magnificent evening cloak, and the bejewelled and befurred “Byzantine Dress,” in which she surely stole much of the glory at her daughter’s wedding.

As befits any Parisienne, black was an essential part of her wardrobe (the Duchess of Guermantes “never looked so well as in black velvet with diamonds,” wrote Proust), including a gorgeous Lanvin day coat that would still look wonderful if worn today, and a glorious black lace corsage overlaid on beige. Displayed nearby is her will, written when she was in her 30s, in which she provided exact details on how she should be buried – in black, of course!

The fascination of this exhibition lies in the interaction of the clothes with the personal details provided: photos, sketches, two snippets of early film taken in her garden, and the quotations from Proust and Elisabeth’s devoted cousin, the flamboyant poet

ParisUpdate-Greffulhe-Galliera-2 Greffulhe par Nadar

Countess Greffulhe wearing Charles Frederick Worth’s “Robe aux Lys,” photographed by Paul Nadar, 1896 © Nadar/Galliera/Roger-Viollet

Robert de Montesquiou, a model for another Proustian character, the Baron de Charlus. Unsurprisingly, she was not insensible to the adulation, and she poses for the camera as consciously as any supermodel, with a graceful dipped head and upward look.

Lovely frocks and a fascinating story are two good reasons for a visit to the delightful Palais Galliera, just across the road from the Palais de Tokyo. The exhibition signage is almost entirely in French, but the helpful staff offered audio guides upon hearing an English accent.

Helen Stokes

Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris: 10, av. Pierre Ier de Serbie, 75116 Paris. Métro: Iéna or Alma-Marceau. Tel.: 01 56 52 86 00. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm (Thursday until 9pm). Closed Monday and public holidays. Admission: €8. Through March 20, 2016. www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr

Reader reaction: Click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to respond to this article (your response may be published on this page and is subject to editing).

Please support Paris Update by ordering books from Paris Update’s Amazon store at no extra cost. Click on your preferred Amazon location: U.K., France, U.S.

More reviews of Paris art shows.

© 2016 Paris Update