A glamorous exhibition at Brussels’ Lace and Costumes Museum

After visiting the The Hague Gemeente Museum’s current costume exhibition (see “Mr Darcy meets Eline Vere”), of course a visit to the Brussels’ Costume and Lace Museum came next. Where the The Hague exhibition ends with the First World War, the Brussels one focusses on the late 1920s and the 1930s. This exhibition runs till the 1st of February 2015.

The museum is close to Brussel’s Grand Place, in the Rue de la Violette. On paying the four Euro entrance fee, one receives a guide of the exhibition. The exhibition sprawls over three floors. The top floor also has a small permanent exhibition on lace. Young children can try out costumes there as well. But throughout this exhibition, there are also plenty activities to keep them occupied.

At ground floor level, the exhibition starts with a display case containing two costumes: one from the twenties, the other one from the thirties. The contrasts between the decade just after WWI and the decade just before WWII is striking. The twenties are the era of the generation which survived a dreadful war. It is the age of the “flappers”, “The Sun Also Rises”, “The Great Gatsby”. It is followed by a decade of great unemployment and poverty, social and political unrest, the rise of nationalism and ultimately another World War.

Throughout the exhibition, there are also creations by modern designers who are still influenced by fashion from these two decades. Not surprising, as the needle craft and design skills shown in all the exhibited period costumes, are impressive and of a very high quality.

The dress-code is also striking. A “fashionista” needed dresses for every hour of the day. There are pyjamas and house suits. There are morning dresses and day dresses. There are afternoon as well as tea-dresses. There are summer and winter suits. There is holiday gear. There are evening dresses, party dresses, teddies and night shifts.

It does not stop there, for the exhibition also shows accessories. Depending on the occasion and time of day; shoes, gloves, hats, bags change. This exhibition does not forget underwear: silk stockings, figure shaping support and such items are also on show.

Children’s fashion is not forgotten, but unlike at the The Hague exhibition, examples of male fashion are missing. What the Brussels exhibition does show, are quite a few dresses and hats designed by local fashion designers. But there are also creations by Chanel, Schiaparelli, and even third generation Worth.

Quite interesting are two bridal dresses. One is from the late twenties; the other one from the thirties. They perfectly illustrate the differences between the decades, as explained at the start of this exhibition.

The display cabinet which shows fashion magazines is interesting as well. It contains early Vogues and other magazines. the front cover of the last magazine shows a woman dressed in a suit based on military outfits. It’s from 1939: the Second World War had started.

If you visit this museum, do not forget to have a look at the examples of lace and lace bobbing. On the ground floor is also a separate room containing four marvellous embroidered tapestries. They show the four seasons.

For the museum’s website: Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle


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