Exhibition

Maison Lemarié and the art of the plumassier

Plumassières at work in the ateliers of Maison Lemarié, working on a creation with duck feathers for Chanel Haute Couture S/S 2014, (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié Paris

Plumassières at work in the ateliers of Maison Lemarié, working on a creation with duck feathers for Chanel Haute Couture S/S 2014, (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Dating back to the 17th and 18th century the craft of processing feathers in Paris was limited to the feather workers or plumassiers who had their own Guild. An apprentice had to work in the business for six years and produce a masterpiece before he could become a master.

Appliqué flower motifs of partridge and pheasant feathers (Lady Amethyst), created by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié Paris

Appliqué flower motifs of partridge and pheasant feathers (Lady Amethyst), created by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié Paris

Application of goose quips, Maison Lemarié Paris, (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié Paris

Application of goose quips, Miason Lemarié Paris, (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié Paris

The plumassier was considered to be a craftsman who used raw materials in an object or fashion accessory. The first step was to clean the feathers – using soap or another detergent such as clay. After the feathers had dried they were sorted and, if necessary, dyed or bleached. Because feathers consist of protein (keratin) they are easy to dye with a natural dye using the same technique that is used for wool and silk.

Abstract composition of goose, ostrich, cock and chicken feathers by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Abstract composition of goose, ostrich, cock and chicken feathers by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Abstract motif with goose feathers and printing ink, created for the 2013 Chanel Cruise Collection by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Abstract motif with goose feathers and printing ink, created for the 2013 Chanel Cruise Collection by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Abstract motif with goose, silver pheasant and cock feathers, created by Maison Lemarié for Chanel Haute Couture A/W 2013-14 (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Abstract motif with goose, silver pheasant and cock feathers, created by Maison Lemarié for Chanel Haute Couture A/W 2013-14 (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

The most common species that were used were ostrich, peacock and heron. Ostrich feathers used to be extremely expensive, but in the 19th century the number of peacocks increased spectacularly – peaking at the beginning of the 20th century. Most ostrich feathers came from ostrich farms in South Africa. Since the second half of the 19th century increasingly more bird species were used, both European ones and the more exotic species. London was the capital of the feather trade.

Appliqué flower motif of chicken and pheasant feathers (Lady Amethyst), created by Maison Lemarié, Paris for Christian Dior Haute Couture A/W 2013-14 (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Appliqué flower motif of chicken and pheasant feathers (Lady Amethyst), created by Maison Lemarié, Paris for Christian Dior Haute Couture A/W 2013-14 (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Appliqué flower motif of cock, goose, ostrich and chicken feathers created by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Appliqué flower motif of cock, goose, ostrich and chicken feathers created by Maison Lemarié, Paris (c) Vincent Lappartient for Maison Lemarié, Paris

Paris formed and still forms the bulwark of feather processing. Here you can also find the Maison Lemarié. Maison Lemarié, founded in Paris in 1880 that make feather creations for numerous top Haute Couture collections. Maison Lemarié specializes in processing and applying feathers and creating artificial flowers and has opened its doors exclusively for the exhibition Birds of Paradise with exclusive shots of the atelier and exquisite samples of feather work testify to the magnificent mastery of this house and to the virtuosity of its plumassiers. In some abstract patterns and applications feathers are unrecognizable. This demonstrates the high level of technical expertise and the innovative methods used to process feathers.

Event, Exhibition, Press&PR

Museumnight 2014 at MoMu

Postermuseumnacht

On Saturday August 2nd, Museumnacht returns to Antwerp for its 10th edition. A successful decade of Museumnacht certainly asks for a celebration: for the occasion, the 17 participating museums add a festive element to their programme, and invite you to join in on this night of celebration!

Between 19h00 and 01h00, the museums in Antwerp open their doors and provide you with an interesting mix of activities alongside their permanent and temporary exhibitions: nightly tours, music and dance performances, slam poetry, photoshoots, activities for children, film screenings, and of course some drinks and eats to keep you going. Not tired yet at 01h00? The Museumnacht afterparty will keep you dancing until 04h00.

At MoMu you can visit the temporary exhibition Birds of Paradise. Plumes and Feathers in Fashion. Immerse yourself into the luxurious world of the elegant and delicate plumes and feathers. For the 10th anniversary of Museumnacht, MoMu also selected 10 silhouettes of designers that play a significant role in the museum collection. Antwerp photographer and artist Michaël Smits was asked to create a digital interpretation of these silhouettes, resulting in 10 colorful images that will be shown in the entrance hall of the museum. Here’s a preview!

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From 19h until 21h, MoMu also installs a workshop table for the little ones, and from 19h until 22h, you can get your picture taken at the FrameMe photobooth, an initiative of AmuseeVous that lets you interact with a selected piece of art at each participating museum. For this photobooth, MoMu selected two fans currently on display in the exhibition. Discover your inner Zizi Jeanmaire and pose with a cardboard reproduction of the fans, while taking inspiration from Jeanmaire’s performance Mon Truc en Plumes. Lastly, the pop-up cocktailbar provides you with the necessary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

All you need to do is get yourself a Museumnacht wristband. This wristband serves as an entrance ticket for all 17 museums, and allows you onto the Museumnacht busses. For more information, visit www.museumnacht.be.

Exhibition

Yves Saint Laurent and feathers

Group of silhouettes by Yves Saint Laurent at the Birds of Paradise expo MoMu Antwerp, Photo: Monica Ho

Group of silhouettes by Yves Saint Laurent at the Birds of Paradise expo MoMu Antwerp, Photo: Monica Ho

The exhibition Birds of Paradise concludes with a group of silhouettes created by one of the most important designers of the 20th century: Yves Saint Laurent. The way Saint Laurent used feathers marked a new era in the 1960s. Moreover, the silhouettes demonstrate that he continued to use feathers until his career ended in the 2000s.

Sketch of Zizi Jeanmaire by Yves Saint Laurent

Sketch of Zizi Jeanmaire by Yves Saint Laurent

His meeting with dancer Zizi Jeanmaire inspired him to use feathers for theatre and dance costumes, such as the huge ostrich feather fan in combination with a black V-necked sweater in Zizi’s famous act ‘Mon Truc en Plumes’ from 1961.

Yves Saint Laurent not only marked the emancipation of women (e.g. his smoking for women), but also of the feather. It left the ornamental register and has gone on to cover the entire body and fly around like an irresistible cloud. Just like in the 1920s, the 1960s stand for freedom, and women’s liberation. The clothes are loosened from the body and it is freed of every form of limitation. The feather emphasizes this simplification as a prefect symbol of lightness. A feather cape by Yves Saint Laurent, that he created later on in his career, suggests the disruptive image of an eagle with its wings folded. It is the personification of the allegory of the bird-woman: elusive, flighty, incomprehensible and mysterious.

Collection, Exhibition, Press&PR

From September 25th, exhibition MoMu Now

Jil Sander Spring-Summer 2011, Image: Patrick Demarchelier/ Vogue © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd., Graphic Design: Paul Boudens

Jil Sander Spring-Summer 2011, Image: Patrick Demarchelier/ Vogue © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd., Graphic Design: Paul Boudens

MoMu Now: Contemporary Fashion from the MoMu collection, from 25/09/2014 to 4/01/2015, is a selection of masterpieces from the recent acquisitions of contemporary silhouettes to the MoMu collection. The MoMu collection consists of approx. 25,000 objects, mainly clothing and accessories, 7,000 of which have been added over the past five years thanks to new purchases, donations and long-term loans. In addition to historic pieces, MoMu’s acquisition policy primarily focuses on purchasing pieces by contemporary Belgian designers whose silhouettes are examples of excellent craftsmanship, bold concepts and avant-garde shapes. All these elements are part of the central theme of MoMu Now.

Haider Ackermann H/W 2011-2012, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

Haider Ackermann H/W 2011-2012, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

This selection of the collection includes notable names from the Belgian fashion scene such as Raf Simons, Haider Ackermann, Walter van Beierendonck, Veronique Branquinho, AF Vandevorst and Ann Demeulemeester, but also younger talents such as Christian Wijnants and Peter Pilotto standing alongside silhouettes donated by Belgian houses (like Delvaux) and major foreign fashion houses (including Balenciaga, Helmut Lang).

Dior by Raf Simons S/S 2013, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

Dior by Raf Simons S/S 2013, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

As a result of MoMu’s growing international network, there have been donations from international fashion houses and long-term loans from iconic Antwerp individuals and private collections. Certain important silhouettes were acquired, including those from Raf Simons for the French fashion house Christian Dior, through the museum’s new circle of friends. The exposition will not only focus on Raf Simons’ menswear, but also on his work for houses like Jil Sander and Christian Dior. MoMu acquired quite a few pieces from Raf Simons’ archives and by purchasing new silhouettes every season. His craftsmanship and the artistic codes of his work are emphasized by exhibiting a combination of his work for various audiences (men, women, couture and ready-to-wear).

Jil Sander by Raf Simons A/W 2009-2010, Photo: Willy Vanderperre

Jil Sander by Raf Simons A/W 2009-2010, Photo: Willy Vanderperre

Exhibition

Thierry Mugler at Birds of Paradise

Opening gown of the expo Birds of Paradise by Thierry Mugler at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Opening gown of the expo Birds of Paradise by Thierry Mugler at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The opening gown of this exhibition was designed by Thierry Mugler. A velvet dress with trompe-l’oeil butterfly pattern in the back cut-out, made by Maison Lemarié with peacock feathers, rooster feathers, eagle feathers and feathers from a bird of paradise. A huge butterfly is suggested by means of feathers in the open back of the dress. This way, a link is created between the butterfly, woman and bird in a surreal creation that emphasises the woman’s uniqueness and exotic nature. She herself is thus presented as a bird of paradise.

Thierry Mugler, Haute Couture S/S 1997, Photo: Patrice Stable, Photo origin: http://regina.guerreiro.blog.uol.com.br/images/pass02.jpg

Thierry Mugler, Haute Couture S/S 1997, Photo: Patrice Stable, Photo origin: http://regina.guerreiro.blog.uol.com.br/images/pass02.jpg

The image of the ‘femme oiseau’ (bird woman) has been a popular theme ever since the era of Romanticism. In those days, women were compared to birds, the symbol of innocence and lightness. In this case, however, it looks more like a seductive femme fatale due to the exotic and bold plumage.

The gown is called Métamorphose d’une chrysalids en femme papillon and was shown by model Simonetta Gianfelici during the finale at Mugler’s Haute Couture show of Spring-Summer of 1997, presenting feathered creations inspired by butterflies and surreal dragonflies.

Exhibition

Feather fans

Feather fans at the Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Feather fans at the Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Since the renaissance feather fans have been used in European courts, where they are considered to be a luxury item and a status symbol. In the early 19th century, French Royal Courts would organise balls with historic themes that referred to the ‘ancien regime’, the era before the French revolution. As a result the feather fan became popular again. Queens and princesses – and in their imitation the rich bourgeois – liked to be portrayed holding a feather hand fan. An ostrich feather hand fan was particularly popular.

Folding fan, mount in ostrich feathers dyed in degrade, tortoiseshell sticks decorated with a crown and arms in platinum, diamonds, rubies and enamel, 1928, Altenloh E&R jewelers, Brussels, Former collection Queen Astrid of Belgium, Royal Collections Palace of Brussels SA.1935.0088, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

Folding fan, mount in ostrich feathers dyed in degrade, tortoiseshell sticks decorated with a crown and arms in platinum, diamonds, rubies and enamel, 1928, Altenloh E&R jewelers, Brussels, Former collection Queen Astrid of Belgium, Royal Collections Palace of Brussels SA.1935.0088, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

At the onset of the 20th century ostrich feathers dominate the scene and they continue to become bigger and bigger due to the use of extended ostrich feathers – also known as pleureuses. The technique to extend ostrich feathers (by tying various beards together) is not new, but is then being used for all kinds of hand fans.

Portrait of Queen Astrid of Belgium by the Belgian artist Leon De Smet (1881-1966)

Portrait of Queen Astrid of Belgium by the Belgian artist Leon De Smet (1881-1966)

After a period of predominantly white, black and grey ostrich feathers, they are then dyed in various shades, solid colors or gradient. They continue, however, to be almost exclusively used for evening gowns. The Belgian Queen Astrid (1905-1935), wife of Belgium’s King Leopold III also follows this fashion. Four of the Queen’s ostrich feather fans from the Royal Collection in Brussels is exhibited in the Birds of Paradise exhibition. In 1935, Leon De Smet (1881-1966) portrayed the Queen holding one of the fans, thus continuing a centuries-old tradition of the official portrait with an ostrich feather fan.

MoMu also posses a large collection of feather fans, in various types of feathers.

Feather fans from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fans from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Left: Fan with leaf in Guinea fowl feathers and frame in imitation tortoise shell, with silk cord and tassel, 1890-1910. Right: Fan with leaf in Guinea fowl feathers and Impeyan Pheasant and frame in imitation tortoise shell with silk cord and tassel, 1880-1900.

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Fan with leaf in eagle feathers and down and frame in imitation tortoise shell, 1895-1915.

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Fan with leaf in ostrich feathers and frame in imitation tortoise shell, 1890-1910.

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Fan with leaf in pheasant feathers and frame in nacre, 1890-1910.

Exhibition

Birds by Melchior d’Hondecoeter

The intro of the expo Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp with a painting by Melchior d'Hondecoeter and a tableau of 23 stuffed birds, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The intro of the expo Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp with a painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter and a tableau of 23 stuffed birds, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The introduction to the exhibition is a painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter, a loan from elaborate collection the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is currently undergoing major renovation, which will take until the end of 2017.

The painting is presented next to a tableau with 23 stuffed birds from the collection of the Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen (KBIN – Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences) in Brussels.

The birds on the painting and on the tableau are widely varied. Their feathers have various functions and bring different connotations to mind: the peacock and the owl each have very different types of feathers and people associate them with completely different characteristics.

Birds by Melchior d'Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 - Amsterdam 1965) a loan by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp at the Bords of Paradise expo at MoMu

Birds by Melchior d’Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 – Amsterdam 1965) a loan by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp at the Bords of Paradise expo at MoMu

A large duck at the centre of this painting dominates the entire scene. It appears to be an exceptionally large Old Dutch Tufted Duck. This type of duck is sometimes also referred to as a Red-crested Pochard or King’s duck as this particular species was favoured to inhabit the beautiful palace ponds. The completely white version in particular, seen here swimming up with its offspring, was highly favoured. On the bank you can see a Common Shelduck coming to take a look with other ducks nearby. At the left in a tree one can see a magpie a pigeon flying around at the top. Although these are not exotic species, the birds are associated with luxury and a refined lifestyle.

Exhibition

Kate MccGwire

Kate MccGwire from MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp on Vimeo.

‘I collect, sort, reuse, layer, peel, burn, reveal, localise, question, duplicate, play and photograph.’

Kate MccGwire, Vex, 2008, Mixed media with pigeon feathers in antique cabinet at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Kate MccGwire, Vex, 2008, Mixed media with pigeon feathers in antique cabinet at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

MoMu invited the renowned British artist Kate MccGwire to intervene with her works in the expo Birds of Paradise. MccGwire primarily works with pigeon and crow feathers, birds that today evoke mainly negative and corny connotations. She likes to respond to people’s prejudice about certain types of feathers, e.g. the pigeon that stands for innocence and romance but at the same time is considered an urban plague. Her tender and large feather sculptures, and impressionable works of art, transcend the mundane charac- ter of the pigeon feathers, which are residual products from pigeon breeding farms and often have red race numbers printed on them. She describes her work method as a way to discover and reinforce the beauty in the unconventional.

Kate MccGwire, Stifle, 2009 and Preen, 2013, Mixed media with dove and white pigeon feathers in antique glass domes at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Kate MccGwire, Stifle, 2009 and Preen, 2013, Mixed media with dove and white pigeon feathers in antique glass domes at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Her works are not just beautiful; they also force viewers to question their own outlook on life. They respond to emotion and ratio and have characteristics of the ‘Unheimliche’, the Freudian concept where a familiar concept is displayed in a strange way and therefore causes agitation. The mundane reality is questioned by a work that is clearly ‘different’.

Kate MccGwire, Gyre, 2012, Mixed media and crow feathers at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Kate MccGwire, Gyre, 2012, Mixed media and crow feathers at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The round space in the expo is dominated by the formidable arc of Gyre, a large installation piece formed from a vast collection of crow feathers. Gyre refers to the cultural mythologies of crows as devious creatures, omens of bad luck when seen in pairs and closely associated with death. These associations are inscribed in the silken black surface of the structure, and intensify with the scale of the work. The piece appears to be organic, expresses MccGwire’s uncanny capacity to create fluidity and supple motion in her static sculptures.

Though Gyre appears disturbing and unfamiliar at first glance, there is something strangely recognisable about it’s form — the creases and crevices seem somehow bodily, allowing us to identify some small part of ourselves in the sculptures. This unexpected familiarity is at the heart of MccGwire’s oeuvre.

Library

Summer schedule MoMu Library

Cover image Le Livre de la Mode à Paris, Nr14, 1920, MoMu Library collection

Cover image Le Livre de la Mode à Paris, Nr14, 1920, MoMu Library collection

During the summer holidays in July and August the MoMu Library will be open by appointment only. Please contact us by mail or call +32 3 470 27 79 to make an appointment!

Exhibition

MoMu Award 2014: Madeleine Coisne – Centers

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Every year, MoMu gives the “MoMu award” to a MA student of the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp. The student is judged by the creative vision and technical merit portrayed in the graduation collection. The winning collection is on view for four months in the MoMu Gallery.

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This year, the winner is Madeleine Coisne with her “Centers” collection. The sense of history in her creative vision is poignant. The collection draws from her childhood memories: her father wearing double buckle shoes and her mother’s taste for collecting curious objects.

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Abstract patterns of the tiles of the Antwerp railway arches as inspiration for the collection of Madeleine Coisne, 2014, Photo: MoMu

Abstract patterns of the tiles of the Antwerp railway arches as inspiration for the collection of Madeleine Coisne, 2014, Photo: MoMu

Coisne is also inspired by the (decorative) arts. She cites the abstract patterns of the tiles of the Antwerp railway arches, the bold graphic shapes found on religious textiles, patterns from Byzantine architecture and the colours by artists such as Mondriaan and Gauguin.

Her inspirations translate into a collection of monumental, Japanese looking shapes with striking colourful patterns. Deep and rich colours reflect from silky surfaces or raggedy swatches, resulting in intricate abstract appliqué motives.

Madeleine Coisne in Unfold, the magazine of the Antwerp Fashion Department, styling: Dirk Van Saene, photo: Ronald Stoops, make-up: Inge Grognard, model: Kristina De Coninck

Madeleine Coisne in Unfold, the magazine of the Antwerp Fashion Department, styling: Dirk Van Saene, photo: Ronald Stoops, make-up: Inge Grognard, model: Kristina De Coninck

Coisne achieves to disturb our sense of what is old and what is new. Her mix of abstraction and history show that labels like “old” and “new” are very relative. We invite you to view Madeleine Coisne “Centers” collection in the MoMu gallery (free entry) during museum opening hours and in UNFOLD, the magazine of the Fashion Department.