Paul Poiret, Jacket from original ‘Troïka’ ensemble (altered, skirt discarded), Paris 1923, printed silk velvet, fur, silk, no accession number. Worn by Mrs A.H. Hondius-Crone.

Lesage, Embroidery work for Balenciaga’s "La Perse" design (detail), 1946, K 64-1956.

The Rarified Air and History of Haute Couture in Paris

Left: Christian Dior, ‘Rome’ ensemble,"‘Ligne Tulipe," no. 13373, Paris spring 1953, wool, K 40-1978ab. Centre: Jacques Fath (design), Mrs C. Kruysveldt-de Mare (execution), Paris/Amsterdam, Three-piece dress with belt, ca. 1950-1952, wool, silk, leather, K 45-2002.1/3. Worn by Titia Bodon, Amsterdam. Fur coat, ca. 1950-1960, ocelot, silk, K 28-2001. Right: Christian Dior (? poss. design), C.H. Kühne & Zonen (execution), Woman’s suit, wool, silk, K 63-2001.

Dior (Marc Bohan: design), C.H. Kühne & Zonen (execution), Two identical afternoon dresses, machine lace, silk, ca. 1972, K 42-1999, K 101-1999.

Design for ‘Quadrille’ woman’s suit, Hirsch & Cie Amsterdam, Album "Manteau"’ printemps/été 1916, collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Gabriëlle "Coco" Chanel, Twee avondjurken, ca. 1925 en ca. 1939, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Foto: Erik en Petra Hesmerg.

Left: Cristobal Balenciaga, Cocktail dress, ca. 1957, cotton organdy, embroidered tulle, K 172-2003 Centre: Jacques Fath, Evening gown, no. 26625, Paris ca. 1953, silk satin, K 188-1966 Right: Maison Dior (design), Heineman & Oswald (execution), ‘Aurore’ cocktail dress, no. 81018, Paris/The Hague, ca. 1957/1958, silk satin, K 83-1971.

Edward Molyneux, Evening gown, 1949, silk rep, embroidered with glass beads, sequins and rhinestones, K 140-1956. Worn by Else Rijkens.


Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
Den Haag
Voici Paris
Haute Couture

February 20-June 6, 2010

Only a handful of fashion houses belong to the select world of haute couture. Membership of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, which was established  in 1868, is an exclusive honour subject to a tough selection procedure and strict rules. The designers affiliated to the Chambre are among the best in the world, repeatedly surprising us with their breathtaking creations. This is the world of great names like Dior, Lacroix and Gaultier. In spring 2010 Gemeentemuseum Den Haag will be giving visitors an exclusive glimpse of the rich history of a fascinating world of charm, champagne and Chanel.

This major exhibition will showcase the history of haute couture, alongside creations by today’s top couturiers. Renowned fashion houses like Dior, Chanel, Christian Lacroix and Jean Paul Gaultier will lend a number of exclusive couture creations from their latest collections, fresh from the catwalk, and never before seen in the Netherlands. Visitors will be able to admire close by the details that make these garments so unique: the sumptuous fabrics, unparalleled embroidery, the cut. In short: all the skills of Parisian couture.

Contemporary couture is not the only thing the exhibition will highlight, however. The museum galleries will also recount the story of couture, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century. Visitors will not only have the opportunity to admire exclusive creations by top designers, but also design drawings, accessories, moving images and photographic material. The exhibition will also cover the history of Dutch couture, from the copies of designs from Paris to the great Dutch couturiers like Charles Montaigne (Karel Meuwese), Frans Molenaar, Frank Govers, Fong Leng and rising new star Jan Taminiau.

The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag owns one of the largest fashion collections in Europe, in which all the great couture houses are well represented. The original pink Givenchy dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is just one famous item in the collection. It also includes earlier pieces that illustrate the history of couture: Worth, Poiret and Vionnet were forerunners of the famous couturiers who now define the look of Paris’s Avenue Montaigne.

Maarten Spruyt, who previously designed several successful fashion exhibitions for the Gemeentemuseum, including Fashion NL: the next generation (2006), Hague Court Fashions (2007) and The Ideal Man (2008), is responsible for the art direction.

Hubert de Givenchy, Cocktail ensemble: dress and jacket (detail), Paris autumn collection 1960, silk ribbon appliqués, sequins and glass beads, K 9-1988.1/2. Worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

Christian Dior, "Rome," wol, ca. 1953; Coco Chanel, Avondjapon, zijden moiré met lurex, herfstcollectie 1955, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Foto: Erik en Petra Hesmerg.

Christian Dior (design), Kühne & Zn. (execution), Paris/The Hague spring collection 1956, Afternoon dress with belt, silk/wool mixture, printed (fabric by Broissin de Mère), K 53-2006.

Hubert de Givenchy, Cocktail ensemble: dress and jacket, Paris autumn collection 1960, silk, silk ribbon appliqués, sequins and glass beads, K 9-1988.1/2. Worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

Constance Wibaut, Modetekening van een namiddagjapon van Christian Dior uit lentecollectie 1956, gewassen tekening, 1956. Collectie Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Foto: Sylvia.

Max Heymans for Hirsch & Cie, Cocktail dress, Amsterdam ca. 1960-1962, silk with appliquéd patterns of sequins and glass beads on net, donated by Ms Kreynborg, Amsterdam 2008.

Max Heymans,"L’Heure de la collection" woman’s suit and hat Amsterdam, spring 1986, wool, cotton damask, metal, K 63-1986.1/3.


Frans Hoogendoorn, Evening ensemble: bodice, skirt, jacket, The Hague 1998, silk matelassé, cellophane, lycra, sequins, K 3-1999.