Library

Cleaning the masquerade

Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré, Journal des Modes pour Hommes, Dames et Enfants, F. Ladevèze, 1875

Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré, Journal des Modes pour Hommes, Dames et Enfants, F. Ladevèze, 1875


“Have you ever tried to rescue clothes from dust and extreme old age?
The 19th century costume plates are yellowing and aging disgracefully. Historical and contemporary clothes from the most fashionable of 1875: blue, white, grey with ruches, puffs, fringes, with bows and ribbons for women and men! Oh, they look lively those dashing men and lovely ladies, dressed in their finery ready for the masquerade ball. But they have been printed on less quality paper. Around the edges the paper crumbles and cracks easily. Every now and then a ‘dog-eared’ corner breaks off unapologetically. Every imperfection, big or small, is a big problem.

Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré, Journal des Modes pour Hommes, Dames et Enfants, F. Ladevèze, 1875

Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré, Journal des Modes pour Hommes, Dames et Enfants, F. Ladevèze, 1875


Yet these documents from Parisian tailor, F. Ladevèze, must be cleaned and preserved:
The biscuit colored cleaning powder breaks down under a light brush of the hans as the dirt transforms it to a dull grey ash. It’s not easy to lightly brush the dirty crumbs away. Not even with the specially designed brush made from Chinese white goats hair and encased in a bamboo handle, with sharp flicks it brushes the aged brown paper.
It often takes a second attempt at brushing and rubbing, sometimes even a third valiant effort, to rid the page of 140 years of dirt. Once as clean as possible the print goes into acid free tissue paper, each one separated from the next. The table is cleaned and I am ready to continue.
Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré, Journal des Modes pour Hommes, Dames et Enfants, F. Ladevèze, 1875

Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré, Journal des Modes pour Hommes, Dames et Enfants, F. Ladevèze, 1875

Once scanned, the prints finally come to rest, to be rediscovered in possibly another century. When I arrive home I brush the last of the rubbings and crumbs from my hair and clothes, and am clean of the historical reminders until the next time.”

Maria Sermeus, volunteer MoMu-Library