Schiaparelli and Theatre de la Mode Models

I finished a biography of the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and wrote a review here . The book was a good background on couture in Paris in the early 20th century. How Schiaparelli was able to accomplish so much with no training was inspirational. But I also felt a kinship with others in the book.  In 1945 the fashion industry rallied after the war, and decided to create 220- 27" models to promote their clothing overseas since they had no supplies or money to put on fashion shows. More than 50 French Couture houses participated--making everything to scale. 100,000 came to see these models as they traveled throughout the U.S. and orders were made for the designs. It signaled the survival of the fashion industry in Paris, and an end to wartime clothing. How wonderful it would have been to participate in that effort back then. Eliane Bonabel coordinated the whole event and designed and helped build the models. It was called the "Theatre de la Mode."

Today it seems difficult to separate these type of models from dolls. I have no interest in creating dolls, but I do love to work with fabric and design on models-- I notice many designers, SarahBurton at McQueen for instance, keep these 1/3 sized figures for designing on a smaller scale. I've made a few of these, and will continue to make more when I find supplies. I've found upholstery ends from the SF Design Center, and Italian Talbot Tie ends in Carmel Valley. I'm always on the lookout for good Italian fabrics just like anyone else. And maybe someday I'll get up to the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington State to see what is left of the "Theatre de la Mode."

a couple of my models using silks I've found.

a couple of my models using silks I've found.

One of Balenciaga's models for Theatre de la Mode  

One of Balenciaga's models for Theatre de la Mode

 

More of the 220 models--note handbags, shoes, hats and jewelry were made to scale as well.

More of the 220 models--note handbags, shoes, hats and jewelry were made to scale as well.