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Museum of History & Industry - University of Washington

From http://www.seattlehistory.org/:

About Fashion at MOHAI

MOHAI is proud to present Fashion at MOHAI, a new exhibit featuring the first-ever Seattle appearance of Théâtre de la Mode, a world renowned collection of French fashion mannequins and stage sets, conceived in 1945 by leading fashion designers and artists to hail the rebirth of the fashion industry at the close of the World War II. Fashion at MOHAI will also feature more than 70 dolls created by late local artist Ada Odenrider, as well as a small assortment of couture garments from MOHAI’s collection. Fashion at MOHAI premieres Saturday, March 4, 2006 and is open through Sunday, July 16, 2006.

The centerpiece of Fashion at MOHAI is Théâtre de la Mode, a unique display that takes you to Paris in the 1940s, where you feel the emotions and realities of the war. Couturiers, set designers, milliners, shoe and glove makers, jewelry designers and other artisans joined together to create a show of their fashions in miniature. Nina Ricci’s son Robert first conceived the idea as a way to showcase the Paris fashion industry while raising money for war victims.

The intricate 27” tall dolls and their lush sets toured major cities of Europe and the United States, beginning in Paris and ending in 1946 in San Francisco. There, after the exhibit closed, jewels worn by the dolls were sent back to France, the sets were presumably destroyed, and the dolls disappeared into storage in the basement of the City of Paris Department Store. Rescued in 1952, the dolls were donated to the then-new Maryhill Museum of Art near Goldendale, in Washington’s Columbia Gorge.

In the 1980s, the late Professor Stanley Garfinkel of Ohio’s Kent State University rediscovered the dolls and the Maryhill Museum sent them to Paris for restoration. The sets were then rebuilt and the Théâtre de la Mode exhibit opened at its original 1940s location in Paris. Among the designers whose fashions are represented in Théâtre de la Mode are Worth, Pierre Balmain, Gres, Paquin and Nina Ricci. The collection recently completed an international tour that included The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Fashion Foundation in Tokyo, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and The Imperial War Museum in London. Now, for the first time, Seattle has a chance to experience Théâtre de la Mode.

(All pictures were taken hand-held without a flash)

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