Grand Design

2 fashionable exhibitions to see.


“It’s marvelous to appreciate paintings,” Truman Capote once remarked. “But why not create your own aesthetic ambient? Be your own living work of art?” Clearly, he would have approved of Elisabeth, Countess Greffulhe, whose splendid wardrobe is the subject of “La Mode Retrouvée,” an exhibition at the Palais Galliera, in Paris (through March 20, 2016). Considered the supreme beauty of her day, the countess presided over Paris’s chicest salon, from the Belle Epoque through the 1920s, often outfitted in the couture creations of Fortuny and Charles Worth. She was the inspiration for Marcel Proust’s Duchesse de Guermantes in Remembrance of Things Past and a patron of Wagner, Diaghilev, and even Marie Curie. The show, which will travel to the Museum at FIT, in New York, next September, is comprised of 50 of the countess’s ensembles. Accessories, photographs, and films fill in the story of the figure who wore them.

Transforming women into living works of art has been something of a signature for the pioneering Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, who makes sculptural garments using 3-D printing and innovative fabrics. Fueled by collaborations with artists, architects, and scientists, van Herpen’s fantastical creations can be glimpsed in “Transforming Fashion,” at the High Museum of Art, in Atlanta, through May 15, 2016. Don’t miss her transparent ice dress, which turns the wearer into a sparkling crystal, or the frock made from the shafts of children’s umbrellas, which calls to mind a samurai.

Photos: Grand Design

Elisabeth, Countess Greffulhe in a drawing by Aurore de la Morinerie. Illustration by Aurore de la Morinerie.

The countess, dressed for a ball, photographed by Otto, circa 1887. Photograph by Otto/Galliera/Roger-Viollet.

Her Maison Worth tea gown, circa 1897.

A Nina Ricci dress and jacket, 1937. Courtesy of Julien Vidal/Galliera/Roger-Viollet.

Hellstern & Sons shoes, circa 1900. Courtesy of Galliera/Roger-Viollet.

Designs from Iris van Herpen’s Hybrid Holism collection, 2012.

Voltage collection, 2013

A 3-D-printed skeleton dress from her Capriole collection, 2011.