Welcome Guest | Register | Login

Vintage Style: Shopping in Paris-French Fashion 1850-1925 Exhibit at The Perelman Building


Even though your “staycation” may be with filled to the brim with Philadelphia events and activities, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out a foreign getaway. Add a bit of Parisian luxury to your summer of brotherly love, and take a quick trip over to the Shopping in Paris: French Fashion 1850–1925 exhibit in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building. This exhibition exemplifies a true Parisian window-shopping experience, quite satisfying in today’s economy.

Before you step into this fashionista’s dream, walk upstairs to the complementary library display, Something to Wear: Fashion in Print 1850-1925. Through an allure of the rich colors in books, periodicals, department store souvenirs, trade catalogs, and fashion plates, watch the Library’s collection of fashion and consumer culture come to life. (click on the photo gallery to the right)

Indulge your fashion fantasies and explore the details and creative craftsmanship of early garments in the Joan Spain Gallery’s exhibit, curated by Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Curator of Costume and Textiles. Before entering the exhibit, you are greeted with a black and white reel composed of film clips, photographs and drawings of fashionable women. This multi-media experience sets the stage and instantly transports viewers into a woman’s luxurious closet and fashionable state-of-mind. Adding a contemporary element to the show, a black lace and silk masterpiece is elegantly draped over a spinning mannequin, designed by none other than John Paul Gautier for his ’95 spring collection. Take a step back in time, and peruse an array of exquisite apparel designed during the early twentieth century that was plucked from the Museum’s personal collection (some of which have rarely or never been seen).

Witness the birth of Haute Couture, as each piece on display was created during a time when the “dressmaker assumed the role of designer and dictated fashion.” From a day dress, evening dress, afternoon dress, opera coat, day ensemble, reception dress, dinner dress, jacket, shawl, cape, to a wedding dress, each piece illustrates the story of the shopping experience abroad. Beyond the apparel, you’ll also see parasols, gloves, shoes, hats, bonnets, early shopping guides and designer’s sketches with fabric swatches. Experience a bit of Philadelphia flair along with the Parisian style, as an outfit from Ville de Paris, a Philadelphia boutique (previously located on 1422 Walnut Street), is featured.

Although my thirst for style was truly sated, I did leave with one lingering thought: I wonder if museum members can take a dress out on loan for just one summer night? If Dilys Blum is reading this, I’d love to borrow the Jeanne Lanvin afternoon dress with silk and crystal beading…{sigh}…a girl can dream.

What You Need to Know:

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Perelman Building

Fairmount and Pennsylvania Avenues

Philadelphia, PA 19130


Tuesday through Sunday:

10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Something to Wear: Fashion in Print 1850-1925

Library Reading Room, Perelman Building

Through Summer 2009

Shopping in Paris: French Fashion 1850–1925

Joan Spain Gallery, first floor, Perelman Building

Through October 25th, 2009