I have loved dolls, history, and the Victorian Era since I was little and can credit my grandmother for that. As a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 from my great, great Aunt Flossie. I was captivated by the dresses and became hooked. I just love to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. I also love to design Victorian dolls. I hope you enjoy my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions,The Victorian Era, and Me blog.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The French Doll Fashion Collection At The MET

If you follow my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions, The Victorian Era and Me Blog you know that I just LOVE the Victorian Era, love history, and love to do research. In doing all of that I ran across the Metropolitan Museum of Art website the other day and fell in love with their collections, the ability to see everything they have in their collections, and the ability to set-up my own "My Met" space to bookmark items at the MET that I love.

Well, while "Moseying At The MET!" last week I came across items from their French Doll Fashion Collection and fell in love with them.  Now all you have to know as to why I would fall in LOVE with them is they have to do with dolls and have to do with the fashions of the Victorian Era and periods before and after that.

They are in fact a collection of fashion dolls displaying French fashions from 1715 until 1906.  There seems to be 42 dolls in the collection and they give you a wonderful picture of the way French fashion has changed through the ages.

Each of the doll pages has information of the fashion year the doll was created for, fashion designer who created it, date created, culture, medium, dimensions, credit line, and accession number. They also include a description containing information on the collection and information on the dolls design.

For example,  the 1715 doll shown in the picture above and at the top of this post had the following descriptive information on her design: The inspiration for this dress came from the painting L'Enseigne de Gersaint by Watteau. Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) was best known for inventing the fete galante, a genre characterized by outdoor parties and bucolic scenes in idyllic settings. L'Enseigne de Gersaint was actually completed in 1720, five years after the date of the Rochas design. Watteau created this work for his friend and art dealer, Gersaint's shop, where it is believed to have hung in the window as a sign. This painting, in addition to being an interesting study of everyday life in an art dealer's shop, is an excellent example of the famous "Watteau pleats". The fashionable women in Watteau's fete gallants were so often depicted wearing this style, that they became known as Watteau pleats.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the reason for the collection was as follows: - In 1947, in response to the suffering of post-World War II France, an American grassroots campaign organized a large-scale relief package. The following year France, moved by this generosity, organized a gift in kind. As the aide was sent to France housed in boxcars and dubbed the "American Friendship Train" the French created the "Gratitude" or "Merci Train", a set of 49 boxcars filled with gifts of thanks. Each of the 48 states was to receive a boxcar with the 49th shared between Washington D.C., and the Territory of Hawaii, which had contributed sugar on the Friendship Train. A wide array of items was included in these cars, from handmade children's toys to priceless works of art.

The Chambre Syndicale de la Couture de Parisienne, who, to raise money for the French people, had two years prior organized the Theatre de la Mode, a group of fashion dolls dressed in clothing from the 1947 couture collections, chose to create a new set of fashion dolls, this time representing the evolution of French fashion rather than the current season. Once again, the Syndicat tapped the most talented and well-known fashion designers, hairstylists, and accessory designers of the time to create these miniature masterpieces.

The unique design of the fashion doll, originally created for Theatre de la Mode and used again for the Gratitude Train was conceived by Eileen Bonabel, the plaster head by the artist Rebull. Each doll measures approximately 24 inches tall, with bodies made entirely of open wire. Human hair was used to fashion the hairstyles. Each designer chose a year between 1715 and 1906 for which to dress his doll. Their varying sources of inspiration included works of art, literature, and historic fashion plates. The Gratitude Train fashion dolls represent a unique moment in the history of couture as they represent not only creative interpretations of historic fashions by the greatest designers of the period, but also are infused with the unparalleled skill, care, and attention to detail that would have been applied in their full-size counterparts.

I would have to agree with the MET, but would add that viewing this collection in it's entirety would be visual eye-candy for anyone who loves the fashions of those periods.

The collection is not on display so, of course, I set-up a French Fashion Doll Collection Page and a set collection in My MET so I could view all the dolls in the collection at any time.  And, if I wanted to read more on any particular design all I would need to do is click on the image for that doll's page at the MET.  How great is that?  I LOVE it.

Both of my pages are shown below:

My Pinterest Page - French Fashion Doll Collection 

I can't quite decide which is my favorite doll of the collection as of yet.  I have to read through all the descriptions first and then maybe I'll decide.   Or, I'll never decide and just enjoy each of the dolls for her beauty and the attention to detail on her amazing costume.

I hope you enjoy the collection as much as I do.

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