On September 23rd, the FIT Museum opened their fall 2016 exhibition — a dark and damask curated collection straight from the closet of Élisabeth de Caraman-Chimay, the Countess Greffulhe. The early twentieth century exhibit houses 40 garments and accessories, all touched with Greffulhe’s elegance and aura. Proust noted of the countess: “I have never seen a woman so beautiful.” And even we, a century later, can agree to this notion just by taking a peek into her closet.
Perhaps the most stunning in the collection are two of Greffulhe’s gowns: the “Lily Dress” of 1896, and the Worth Tea- Gown of 1897 (supposedly constructed by Paul Poiret’s legendary fashion house). Both designs are powerful in nature, strong in construction, and sovereign in aura. The gowns command the stages they stand on, through a nice balance of unwavering detail and broad grandeur.
This exhibition not only celebrates Greffulhe’s unique style, it reveals notions of early feminism in clothing, and a woman unafraid to carry herself proudly in these garments. The collection foreshadows the future: expressing the concept that women’s clothing does not merely exist to cover up, women’s clothing exists to embrace the power that she holds.
Proust’s Muse will be open at the Museum at FIT until January 7, 2017.