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Le Théâtre de la Mode: Occupied Paris and the Rebirth of Fashion
Speaker: Steven L. Grafe, Curator of Art, Maryhill Museum of Art
During the Nazi occupation of Paris (1940–1944), the Germans repeatedly sought to move that city’s haute couture industry to Berlin and Vienna. They hoped to break the “unjust monopoly” of Paris and turn their own cities into cultural centers of the “New Europe.” This effort was unsuccessful, but for four years, the Germans kept the Paris fashion houses from exporting, advertising, and making a profit. Soon after the city was liberated in August 1944, its fashion industry devised a plan to inform the world that Paris couture was still alive and well. This was accomplished by creating miniature mannequins and fashions that were displayed in stage sets created by prominent artists. The Théâtre de la Mode premiered in Paris in March 1945—before the war had even ended. The display then traveled to London and other European capitals. New fashions and stage sets were created for a 1946 tour that included stops in New York and San Francisco. These same miniature fashions were given to Maryhill Museum of Art in 1952, where they are now shown in nine replicas of the original stage sets.

Apr 29, 2021 05:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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