Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Novel of a Wardrobe

The Novel of a Wardrobe is the title of a lovely Parisian exhibit that just closed.  It was housed in the Musée Carnavalet, the museum of Paris history.  From 1902 through the 1920's, Alice Alleaume worked as the vendeuse for several French fashion houses.  She had a bird's eye view of the quickly changing styles from the Belle Epoque to the 1920's flappers' style.

Until I watched the House of Eliott, I had no idea what a vendeuse was.  The Eliott sisters hired one and she was a coveted employee of the House, bringing with her a mandatory list of contacts, working as the receptionist and taking command of the appointment book.  The Novel of a Wardrobe collection contained only the clothes and artifacts belonging to Alice Alleaume and it was quite extensive.  There were both "working girl" ensembles as well as ball gowns and also hats, gloves, lingerie and shoes.  A conscientious promoter of Parisienne chic, Alice's clothes were never limited to the house she was working for and she was a particularly devoted fan to Jeanne Lanvin, a designer of very feminine dresses and one of my favorites too.

I wish I could glean more details of Alice's personal life but there is not much written about her.  However, the exhibit is a peek into a chic woman's wonderful by-gone wardrobe, the clothes of which can indeed be "read" like a novel in time.  And what makes it truly special is that Alice had impeccable taste.

(Pink chiffon gown, 1905, Alice Alleaume)

p.s.  The exhibit can still be viewed online.


  1. Fascinating! I am also a big fan of The House of Eliott. At times I wonder how the battle between the sisters over couture versus ready to wear would have turned out if the show hadn't been cancelled.

  2. Lynn, I was enchanted with this collection. Also, I believe Bea and Evie were joined at the hip and most likely had to move towards the ready-to-wear market, perhaps opening a factory outside London somewhere ;)

  3. I wish I could've seen this exhibit. I know I would've loved it. Thank you for the very nice comment you left on my blog. I appreciate it! XO, Jill

  4. I wanted to see that! I bet it was amazing.
    Thanks Emily