Exhibition

Sainte Catherine, a celebration of fashion, hats and young girls

Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion features various silhouettes by different designers, for instance, the enormous yellow and green tule ‘Catherinette’ dress from Christian Dior Haute Couture A/W 2005-06, accessorized with a very festive sequined embroidered hat by Stephen Jones. This silhouette is inspired by an old French tradition, the ‘fête des Catherinettes’, in which unmarried young women from the age of 25, are celebrated on Saint Catherine’s day, when they get to wear a festive green-and-yellow dress and hat to go to the ball.

The French ‘Catherinettes Day’, on November 25th, is the day of the holy Catherine (Sainte Catherine), who is the patron of young unmarried girls, milliners and couturiers. The story to this custom is a little sad: young Catherine of Alexandria, did not want to marry the Emperor, as a result she was beheaded on November 25th, 307. To honour Sainte Catherine’s day, and to find a husband eventually, unmarried girls would have worn bright colours. Although it is very usual these days not to be married at 25, many French designers and milliners still celebrate the Catherinettes in their respective maisons, especially at Dior, since Christian Dior himself had great sympathy for his own Catherinettes. A few pictures still survive from 1953, by the famous photographer Robert Doisneau, of Monsieur Dior with his Catherinettes jumping out of a giant hat box.

Hence, it is no wonder that Stephen Jones and Maison Dior still work together every year to produce a few celebratory outfits in yellow – for succes – and green – for hope – for this special occasion. Sometimes, the outfits are shown on the catwalk as an introduction to the A/W Haute- Couture shows, such as in the video above.

As you may see in the exhibition, the Catherinette silhouette is a good crystallisation of a successful collaboration between Stephen Jones and John Galliano for Dior Haute Couture: it is high fashion, festive, and fun, as well as it features an extraordinary hat!