Théâtre de la Mode

Maryhill Museum of Art’s permanent display of Théâtre de la Mode presents post-World War II French haute couture fashions on one-third-life-size human mannequins. When it appeared at Louvre’s Museum of Decorative Arts in 1945, the Théâtre de la Mode opening drew 100,000 visitors. The exhibition toured Europe and the United States in 1946, before languishing in the basement of San Francisco’s City of Paris department store. The sets were lost, but the mannequins were saved through the efforts of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, who championed their transfer to Maryhill Museum of Art.

Maryhill is home to nine re-built sets and restored mannequins dressed in period casual and formal wear. Each year, three of the nine sets are on display.

In 2022, all or part of three different Théâtre de la Mode sets will rotate onto view: Louis Touchagues’ “La Rue de la Paix en la Place Vendôme”; Georges Douking’s “L’Île de la Cité”; and a portion of Christian Bérard’s “Le Théâtre.”


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Aficionados of fashion and fashion history are generally familiar with the story of the Théâtre de la Mode, the circumstances surrounding its creation in post-war Paris, its travel to diverse European and American cities, and its serendipitous arrival at Maryhill Museum of Art. Here that story is retold using vintage narratives, including texts from the catalogues of the 1945 London Théâtre de la Mode exhibition and its 1946 New York presentation, and from the museum’s own archives.

CLICK HERE to read online exhibition.



Jeanne Lanvin & the Théâtre de la Mode

Lanvin’s career as a couturier began in 1909, when she joined the Syndicat de la Couture. She contributed designs to the 1945 and 1946 editions of the Théâtre de la Mode.

The Théâtre de la Mode: The Forgotten Décors

A closer look at décors for Théâtre de la Mode exhibits in Europe in 1945 and North America in 1946 shows that the sets differed and included lost designs by George Geffroy, George Wakhévitch, Jean-Denis Malclès and Emilio Terry.

Théâtre de la Mode - Maryhill Museum - Columbia Gorge

“Rose de France” ensemble by Mendel, part of the set Le Théâtre by Christian Bérard.  Gift of Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and Paul Verdier, Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art

Théâtre de la Mode - Maryhill Museum - Columbia Gorge

Detail from Théâtre de la Mode: “L’Île de la Cité,” original 1946 fashions and mannequins in décor by Georges Douking (recreated by Anne Surgers); Gift of Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and Paul Verdier, Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art