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THIRTY SOMETHING: A new Paris exhibition — titled “1931, face-dos-profil” — unveils an unexpected trove of archival photographs to examine couture in the early 20th century. The images — depicting models before a three-way mirror to show the front, back and profile of their dresses — were submitted by designers to the Paris Conseil de Prud’hommes tribunal in dossiers requesting copyright protection.
Although they had a legal purpose, these never-before-seen images can be appreciated as fashion photographs. Curator Sylvie Lécallier, from the Musée Galliera, highlighted a “paradox that these hidden documents are in fact very valuable and sumptuous.” Amongst the fashion houses represented are Lanvin, Hermès, Vionnet, Lucien Lelong and Callot Soeurs. Lécallier organized the images thematically rather than by designer to illustrate trends of the time. In 1931 alone, over 10,000 trademark requests were made.
The archival documents, photographs, and fashion sketches are displayed alongside a selection of complementary pieces from the Musée Galliera. The Thirties revival includes Jacques Heim dresses, a Jean Patou evening coat, long gloves by Alexandrine, and taste-making magazines like “Art. Goût. Beauté.”
The exhibition runs through July 6 at the Galerie du Crédit Municipal de Paris at 55 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois.