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Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Paris Fashion Tour for American Dancers

The month of May also brought 15 dance students from a well-known dance department of an American university.  This was the third annual educational tour of Paris taking in the world of Dance and Ballet where it all began. 
  I was delighted that my Fashion lecture and tour was part of the plan. I had been associated with the university as a guest ballet teacher for some time and they have kep up the connection with me when moving to Paris.   The Fashion Tour is about the tradition of Paris Haute Couture and
 we started the tour in my apartment for a pre-tour lecture/talk to outline what is Paris Haute Couture and its evolution.  So much easier than talking in the street with traffic noise and people trailing behind not hearing anything.

Dancers enjoying some light refreshment in my apartment after the lecture 

I explained that although Haute Couture started in the courts of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI whose couturier was Rose Bertin, today, my lecture would commence with the reign of the post revolution French Second Empire of Napoleon III from 1852 until 1870. 
The two pictures below show the first and last garment styles from the House of Worth, the recognised first couturier of post revolution times.

Empress Eugenie in 1897                                                    Lady Mandl's evening gown from 1920

After the lecture we walked up to Avenue Montaigne, passing the replica flame of the Statue of Liberty beside Pont Alma which has now been adopted by everyone as a remembrance monument to 
Princess Diana who famously died in a car accident in the tunnel beneath our feet.

Replica of the Statue of Liberty Flame adopted as the Princess Diana Memorial

Avenue Montaigne is where most of the shops of the modern day of the haute of haute couturiers are to be found . The grandmother and grandfather of haute couture, namely,Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, dominate this beautiful tree-lined avenue. Their shops stand on opposite sides of this famous street which reached renewed heights of fame in the 1980’s.

A beautiful arrangement of fresh Peonies in the Christian Dior Flagship shop

The avenue was originally called Allee des Verves, where the young widows of the Napoleon I wars met and no doubt comforted each other. It has always been a women's street and during the reign of Napoleon III it was named after Monsieur Montaigne who held the glittering Maybille Balls. 
 Michele de Montaigne was a Renaissance writer, a peacemaker and also a man of amusing “pithy” sayings. 

  My lecture could be called even an irreverent comparison of important world events but even during the times of war women sought to dress up and adorn themselves.  Who better to give them this opportunity to indulge their fantasies than the best garment makers in the world at the time.


Bleu said...

I feel right there with you and your troupe on that magical Avenue Montaigne ! Lovely history. Wish I could post a photo from my bedroom of a beautiful print from 1717-1814 of a costume by Louis Boquet for the Paris Opera. Nestled next to it are granny's opera glasses from our lovely evening enjoying Nureyv's Don Quioxte. Off to embrace the exotic Afghan treasures from Kabul Museum, which were kept safely in French exile during the Talib and wonder surrounds us ! x

Swan said...

Dear Bleu - You are a gal of many parts. Keep enjoying life as you already do.

M-T said...

Dear Swan,

I’m so delighted you found my Blog and equally delighted to have found yours. We "rousse" should always take the time to get to know each other, "n'est--pas? I, also, have a ballet background (in my far distant youth) and still love it, although I come from a long line of opera singers and opera lovers (myself included).

Would love to know more about you and what you do. It sounds so very interesting. Please send me an e-mail.