We moderns.

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It seems absolutely ludicrous that I haven’t posted on House of Eliott before. I mean, it was an entire BBC series set in 1920s London that focused on a burgeoning fictional couture house. In the history of broadcasting has there been a better concept for any programme, EVER? It’s got everything you could hope for: love triangles, men in braces, casual references to Gazette du Bon Ton and, in the second series, a sojourn to Paris. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. The great news is that all three series are available to watch on YouTube so you can binge until you can binge no more. I strongly recommend you do as I did and take a week to watch the lot in one, glorious sitting. At the end of it you will almost certainly finish every phone call and text conversation with ‘good day’.

Some things I learnt by re-watching a few episodes this weekend: firstly, that my life is utterly substandard for not owning a selection of antique silk kimonos to merrily laze around the house in and secondly, that 1920s daywear was absolutely unbeatable. The images above are just a tiny selection of the incredible ensembles worn by the two Eliott sisters, Bea and Evie, on their journey towards becoming famed couturiers. My favourite outfits are generally those worn by Evie; the younger, slightly sportier sister with a killer taste in knitwear and a penchant for waistcoats and ties. It is the daywear of dreams.

 

[Images via the incredible House of Eliott tumblr]

 

 

We moderns.

s-gonet-l-lombard eliott18tumblr_m4nbmzl9FU1ronoa9o1_500

eliott17

tumblr_m5o8hxAUXc1ronoa9o1_500tumblr_m2sdha9k8t1ronoa9o1_500

 

It seems absolutely ludicrous that I haven’t posted on House of Eliott before. I mean, it was an entire BBC series set in 1920s London that focused on a burgeoning fictional couture house. In the history of broadcasting has there been a better concept for any programme, EVER? It’s got everything you could hope for: love triangles, men in braces, casual references to Gazette du Bon Ton and, in the second series, a sojourn to Paris. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. The great news is that all three series are available to watch on YouTube so you can binge until you can binge no more. I strongly recommend you do as I did and take a week to watch the lot in one, glorious sitting. At the end of it you will almost certainly finish every phone call and text conversation with ‘good day’.

Some things I learnt by re-watching a few episodes this weekend: firstly, that my life is utterly substandard for not owning a selection of antique silk kimonos to merrily laze around the house in and secondly, that 1920s daywear was absolutely unbeatable. The images above are just a tiny selection of the incredible ensembles worn by the two Eliott sisters, Bea and Evie, on their journey towards becoming famed couturiers. My favourite outfits are generally those worn by Evie; the younger, slightly sportier sister with a killer taste in knitwear and a penchant for waistcoats and ties. It is the daywear of dreams.

 

[Images via the incredible House of Eliott tumblr]

 

 

The novel of a wardrobe.

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Photograph by Edward Steichen.
Portrait of Mrs E. E. Cummings (Marion Morehouse) wearing a dress designed by Madeleine Chéruit.
Published in American Vogue, 1927.

 

“…replied Elstir, ‘You see, there are very few good couturiers at present, one or two only, Callot—although they go in rather too freely for lace—Doucet, Cheruit, Paquin sometimes. The others are all ghastly.”

– Proust

 

With less than two weeks to go until a weekend  trip to Paris and the need for a proper itinerary stressing me out more than my City-Pharma shopping list, I finally decided to do some research on how best to fill the hours between breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A February killer-deal on Eurostar has scuppered our chances of catching the last few days of the Alaia retrospective, however, we will manage to catch an entire exhibition dedicated to Haute Couture in Paris around the turn of the 20th century. Alaia who?! ‘‘The Novel of a Wardrobe: Parisian Chic from the Belle Epoque to the 1930s’ at La Musée Carnavalet features the wondrous wardrobe of Parisian Alice Alleaume, the head vendeuse at couture house Chéruit from 1912-1923 and includes creations by Jeanne Lanvin (!), Charles Frederick Worth (!!!) and of course, some beautiful examples from her employer, Mme. Chéruit.

 

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Photograph by Edward Steichen.
Portrait of Mrs E. E. Cummings (Marion Morehouse) wearing a dress designed by Madeleine Chéruit.
Published in American Vogue, 1927.

 

The house of Chéruit, founded by Louise Chéruit, was one of the earliest established couturiers in Paris and one of the esteemed conclave of designers featured exclusively in Parisian style bible ‘La Gazette du Bon Ton’.

With such an exhibition on long-term display, and numerous pieces of Chéruit held in dress collections worldwide, it seems bizarre that no major monograph appears to exist (FUTURE PhD STUDENTS, YOU ARE WELCOME). In fact, the only thing I can find on Amazon is a 1920s version of those  amazing illustrated paper dolls featuring a Cheruit design. Fear not though, for I have dug deep and found a series of ace posts by Beatrice Behlen on the conservation on a Cheruit gown in the Museum of London’s collections, enough to tide you over until the reams of photographs from the exhibition flood the blog. Joyous.

 

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Back to Alice though, and more specifically her role as head vendeuse. I’ve been pretty obsessed with the role and influence of ladies like Alice since watching three series-worth of the House of Eliott back-to-back during a week of annual leave last year. It is, truly, a glorious way to spend an entire seven days.

From what I’ve gathered, it seems to be the case that to be a successful vendeuse, you needed to be not only a saleswoman, but a confidente, a therapist, and above all, a perfectionist with an eye for PR. Officially, her job was to advise  and serve a precious group of women with the funds to buy couture each season. Her main role was to oversee the each and every one of her clients’ fittings, the production of those garments and all of the vastly important ordering and payment details. They were, to all intents and purposes, the public face of the couture house: their discretion, honesty and skill gained the trust, and ultimately, profitable long-term patronage of their prized clients.

 

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[Images via Pinterest and Flickr]