Tuesday, November 27, 2018

French Clothing at the Getty Center

How do the holidays sneak up on me? I vaguely recall the years everything was finished during the summer which made Christmas a delight of visits, services, friends. Those days are gone. Now I am surprised when Halloween says, "Boo!" Then it's just a skip and a hop to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

With supreme smugness, I sewed several small tops this summer planning to create a stack of baby quilts. Well, I didn't quilt them and now... I need five. Fortunately they are small and should finish quickly.

Here's the first one under the needle.

Quilting Chinese Coins IX baby quilt

The Getty Center

Another post of the previous perfection before the fires. I'm using it as a respite from assembling kits to help survivors. Terrible as they are, there are other disasters worldwide. Let's all help our neighbors - those in our hometowns, across our countries, and around the world. Money is the best donation although we need to make sure it's going to reputable charities.

Anyway, back to LaLa Land.

Darling DH insisted we visit the Getty Center Saturday since he knows how much I enjoy this museum. It's on a hillside with great views of both LA downtown and the ocean... at a distance.

View of LA and the Pacific Ocean from the Getty Center

We rode the bus to the base then took the free tram up to the museum.  {There's also paid parking but you still take the tram.}

It's very modern and open - white travertine and glass. We need sunglasses outside but the weather was lovely. Once you pass the entrance there are a collection of buildings with many terraces on multiple levels. Also gardens, outdoor cafe, indoor restaurant, fountains, statuary.

View of the Getty Center inside

J. Paul particularly collected furniture and decorative items. Not to imply there aren't loads of paintings but many of those have been added since his death. So after a leisurely survey of one exhibit, we went to lunch and then split up. DH chose to view Art of Three Faiths: a Torah, a Bible and a Qur'an displaying illuminated manuscripts while I attended a lecture on French fashion... for two hours. Fabulous!

Maxwell Barr brought a live model to demonstrate the craftsmanship involved in the daily wardrobe of 18th century French nobility. Starting as she arose in the morning, he worked through six changes of clothing. Along the way he discussed makeup - purchased at paint stores and applied with silver knives exactly like painting a canvas. Queen Marie Antoinette had the reddest cheeks; princesses next reddest, etc. Woe betide she whose cheeks were redder than her rank allowed!

The model dressed to receive company in her boudoir. Notice she wore a hat indoors.

Morning deshabille in 18th century France

Mr. Barr copied this luncheon ensemble from a painting which he showed on the screen behind the model. The fichu is only from the 19th century since they rarely last long. Her gown was definitely this short; they became longer as the day wore on.

Maxwell Barr explains details of dressing for luncheon in 18th century France

Evening gowns were one basic style: a skirt short enough to display her shoes {because they had diamonds} then an over-robe that fastened in the front but also laced in back. The pleats in back are French style. English style was fitted in back.

Robe francais

Women's sleeves were constructed to keep their arms slightly bent. In fact, the seams would rip if straightened so servants {or an attentive gentleman} were required to pick up anything a lady dropped.

The live display was matched with slides as he pointed out the details of clothing and fashion. Details matched: prints, ruffles, length, etc. although the diamond buckles were now only paste.

Mr. Barr noted how the clothing blended or fit with household furnishings by showing photos of past exhibits that displayed mannequins in furnished period rooms. One of those was Dangerous Liaisons, a 2005 exhibit at The Met.

He emphasized this point with a photo of these mannequins in a modern living room. Very silly. I'd never considered how our furnishings match our clothing. While our chairs encourage slouching and curling up with feet on the furniture, theirs allowed women to sit while wearing panniers - wide seats and short arms. You know the style.

I hope you have an opportunity to hear him or another costume historian some time.

Enjoy the day, Ann

24 comments:

  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time at the museum. I had planned to work on my stash of baby quilts too, but time had gotten away from me. I don't have any need for any right now, but you never know. I am sure you will get the five you have quilted and off to the little ones!

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    1. The exhibits were intriguing and I loved the lecture. Maxwell shared a wealth of information. His commitment to detail was stunning.
      I had such good intentions to rebuild my baby quilt stack but other issues took my time. Now I need to get busy. It's gratifying that so many babies (and their parents) still want these. And I still need to build that ready-to-go pile. After Christmas.

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  2. Oh, I would have been fascinated by the clothing talk! I've done a fair bit of costume sewing, most recently an 18th century men's coat for my SIL. One of my keen interests!
    Good luck with the quilting! May your bobbin always be full!

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    1. How exciting that you made costumes. I haven't made one since high school so you can imagine how inaccurate those were. I'd love to see the coat you made.

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  3. All three of us ladies - me, DD, DM would have loved this lecture - all have made costumes or clothing. But DM is in Houston, DD is inundated with work, and I'm inundated with other of life's events. The Getty is one of my favorite museums for all of its events but also for its architecture. The light on the travertine marble changes the look of it as the sun moves across the sky. Would make a wonderful photo exhibit. Lucky you!

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    1. I was so lucky we happened to visit on the day of his lecture. I think he's given it several years since he mentioned having a previous model. You are fortunate to have two more family members with this same interest.
      Yes, the travertine is fabulous in the sun. LA is not as hot as Houston and has better breezes so the structure looks elegant and cool. It would be unforgivingly hot in Texas. I always enjoy my visits. And you can visit even more frequently.

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  4. Baby quilts are wonderful gifts!
    And the French fashion show looks like fun.
    Thanks for sharing your photos.

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    1. I love making and giving baby quilts. You know they get used and loved. Perfect.

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  5. so restrictive... indicative of the times. Diamonds on shoes... how decadent! Wouldn't want to muss them outside, a lady should be carried around on a platform chair!

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    1. I was intrigued that these clothes were skirts, jackets, etc. Not dresses like we know them today. It certainly made them somewhat easier to move around in. Maxwell also pointed out that ladies rode facing back in carriages o keep robbers stealing the lace from their hair. Who'd have thought?
      And wouldn't you hate to lose your shoes if they had diamonds!

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  6. Five baby quilts!? Congratulations? It would be nice to learn about costume history. I've learned a bit already in your post.

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    1. Lots of friends having babies. It's a good way to keep the fabric moving and fun to see the children grow up with a favorite quilt. Because it was a live model lecture, this was more interesting than just looking at still photos. Lots of details on the constructions, comparisons with the paintings that inspired them, information about how they were layered. I'm not sure I'm ready to make one myself though.

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  7. How exciting! what a great experience

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    1. It was, Glen. Almost as fun as your fabulous trips.

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  8. Best of luck on your quilting marathon!

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    1. Thanks, Audrey. Christmas carols playing with frequent stops for hot tea or cider.

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  9. How interesting! I'd love to see this exhibit! I don't suppose it will be coming to Japan. It was great that you made up the baby quilt tops ahead of time.

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    1. Mr Barr frequently referenced an exhibit in Japan as a groundbreaking exhibit of furnishing with period clothing so I think one of the first was there.
      And yes, at least thetols are ready to go.

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  10. The lecture sounds fascinating - a great combination of visually stunning and thought-provoking (not for the first time I am struck by the way women were so physically restrained by their clothing). Good luck with all your quilting.

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    1. I not seen a lecture like this before so it was especially interesting to me. I kept thinking of the artisans who created these fabrics, lace, and shoes. These clothes were for the 1% so they had to replace them frequently; I'd say churn them. And that consumed most of their time. So perhaps they didn't have time to notice their clothing was so restrictive. How's that for crazy reasoning?

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  11. Wow, the views of LA and the sunset are amazing!! A treat to see the style of clothes worn in 18th century France, I wonder how comfortable they were!

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    1. Like most of us, I can delude myself I'd be in the nobility but the truth is I'd be a chambermaid or sewing room underling. I still can't get over the number of times they changed clothes daily. And remember, no electric machines, dryers, irons. What a chore. But they certainly were beautiful clothes.

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  12. Ann: This is fascinating. What a great lecture that must have been. I feel almost like I was there. Thanks for sharing this part of the art world with us.

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    1. It was fabulous, Teresa. Maxwell worked in costuming his entire career and shared some of his extensive collection of fabrics, clothing, and prints.

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