Preserving French FashionHeritage

Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs (museum of Decorative Arts) is an internationally renowned Parisian institution founded in 1948, carrying a collection of over 60 000 works of art, an unprecedented panorama of the history of furniture, glass, ceramics, metal work, jewelry, design, textile and fashion. The museum holds a very large collection of fashion iconic pieces from all era of French fashion history. This textile collection is precious yet very fragile so a patronage was established under my direction in between the museum and La Vallée Village (a luxury shopping destination East ofParis) to restore and thus preserve 5 iconic master pieces from the museum’s collections whose advanced deterioration prevented them from being shown to the public.

These exceptional garments each related a different story: from a 16th century RoyalCourt French aristocrat red velvet cape with gold embroidery to a silk dress with a flower chain motif belonging to a reader to Marie-Antoinette; from a late 18th century wide-brimmed hat decorated with small pendants in silk flowers worn by French aristocrat ladies as part of the “pastoral clothes” look to a Haute Couture Charles Frederic Worth’s end of 19th century silk dress with feather motifs.

An in-depth examination of the pieces, sometimes requiring unprecedented techniques, as well as their restoration, had all the excitement of a period police investigation, with a happy ending.

These restored masterpieces were then exhibited in the Period Rooms of the museum for the public to discover them for the first time.

This campaign was a great example of how the private sector and a public institution could collaborate to help with preservation of Heritage and Crafts.

It also opened the door to multiple other initiatives led by La Vallée Village, from the showcase of young designers from Camondo School (an internationally reputed Parisian School of ArchitecturalDesign) to the full dress-up of La Vallée Village’s fashion boutiques facades with vintage wall-papers from the collections of the museum of decorative arts.

A perfectly orchestrated 360° marketing and communication campaign highlighting that style is timeless and heritage always relevant.

Cover photograph: Mad Paris

A guide in French to Kyoto's crafts and design addresses