Art, opera, literature, writing, history of dress, interiors, travel, Paris . . . and more. By Susie Ralph.

Category: Writing

Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix 1867-1930

Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix: revolutionary designer who changed the line of fashion. Here is an example of her slender, corsetless line – the robe-tanagréenne. It is worn by her favourite model, who small bust and simple hairstyle were  avant-garde for the time and contrasted strongly with the generally accepted ideals of fashionable feminine beauty in the first decade of the twentieth-century.

Robe tanagréene Front Oct 1908

I am currently working on a monograph of Margaine-Lacroix, which draws upon a body of research collected during the course of an MA: Investigating Fashion Design, 2009 – 2010, and added to over the past four years.

A page on Margaine-Lacroix is coming soon. Meanwhile read my guest post on the Kensington and Chelsea libraries’ blog, written to accompany my exhibition: Margaine-Lacroix and the Dresses that Shocked Paris, July 2013. https://rbkclibraries.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/margaine-lacroix-and-the-dresses-that-shocked-paris/

Also available online:Inspired by the Antique: Margaine-Lacroix and the robe tanagréenne, a paper presented at Costume Colloquium III: Past Dress: Future Fashion, Florence 2012. http://www.costume-textiles.com/?page_id=1848 Select Susie Ralph from the list of online presentations. The recording starts with an introduction in Italian.

 

paris-1900

Behind the Bright Façade

Behind the Bright Façade: a novel of Belle Époque Paris, written under the pen name Édita Elphick.

I am currently working on a historical novel: Behind the Bright Façade. It draws on research undertaken for an MA which investigates the Paris couturier Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix, 1867-1930.

Lily is a ‘woman with a past’ – a past that contains a secret which she decides to reveal as she nears the end of her life.

Set against a background of the French couture industry it tells her story: the bright, beautiful but rebellious younger daughter of successful publisher Charles Marchant, she forms the ambition of becoming a couturier like the great Madame Paquin. Lily has been raised by her mother Adeline to regard marriage as the pinnacle of a girl’s achievement, but Adeline despairs of ever making a ‘young lady’ out of her high-spirited daughter,

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Tanagréenne back drape

Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix

Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix: revolutionary designer who changed the line of fashion.


A monograph on the influential early twentieth century designer Margaine-Lacroix. This work draws upon a body of research collected during the course of an MA: Investigating Fashion Design, 2009 – 2010, and added to over the past four years.

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Background to Behind the Bright Façade

LILY AT THE EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE 1900

 

Paris – La ville lumière, the city of light – the city of love!  She glitters in the night like a grande-horizontale bedecked in her most extravagant jewels, like a diamond parure, hard and brilliant, resting on a bed of soft, yielding black velvet. What vices lay hidden in that inky darkness, what temptations lurk unseen in her shadowy folds? But do not concern yourself with what may lie beneath, she whispers seductively, take pleasure only in my beauty and my dress. Look – I have arrayed myself in my finest to greet the new century!

The evidence of the calendar is belied by the magnificence of her display, all the extravagances of the old century have reached a final flowering. The old ways are not ready to die yet, and the young and impressionable Lily, on the threshold of womanhood, is captivated by this glittering façade. She is letting down her defences – and, like a beautiful avaricious woman, Paris reaches out – and grasps her heart.

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