En robe grise et verte avec des ruches,
Un jour de juin que j’étais soucieux,
Elle apparut souriante à mes yeux
Qui l’admiraient sans redouter d’embûches
(Paul Verlaine, “La Bonne Chanson“)
These lines are from Paul Verlaine‘s “La Bonne Chanson“. Verlaine’s poetry inspired designer Peter George d’Angelino Tap. A few of his creations are on show at three small museums in The Hague till the end of March 2016. The title of the three exhibitions is “Chansons Grises”.
Though known as a fashion designer, d’Angelino Tap‘s works exhibited at the three museums not only show haute couture. One museum exhibits furniture and another dinner services. The fashion exhibition can be found at the Panorama Mesdag Museum.
The reason the privately owned Panorama Mesdag Museum shows twenty-one Peter George d’Angelino Tap’s dresses, are paintings. D’Angelino Tap was not only inspired by Verlaine’s poems, but also by the seascapes painted by Mesdag and French landscapes by Vincent van Gogh.
If one expects wearable clothes, like the ones recently shown at the Noordbrabants Museum’s exhibition on “How van Gogh became famous”, one is in for a shock. D’Angelino Tap’s creations are tres, tres haute couture and certainly not prêt-à-porter.
René Lauffer did photograph a model wearing and showing off the fantastic creations. But one look from the entrance to the exhibition space makes it clear. These dresses are art-inspired-by-art, but hardly intended to be worn.
Paul Verlaine’s poems were one inspiration. As mentioned above, d’Angelino Tap was also inspired by paintings by van Gogh and Mesdag. However, the influences of the Dutch sea and French landscape are not straightforward – as explained in this exhibition.
Louis Couperus Museum
Furniture designed by George d’Angelino Tap can be admired at the tiny Louis Couperus Museum. Cloth and embroidery link chairs to paintings by van Gogh and Mesdag, as well as poetry written by both Paul Verlaine and Dutch author Louis Couperus.
Poetry and paintings were inspirations, but the song-cycle composed by Raynaldo Hahn was also a source. Hahn set several of Verlaine’s poems to music and called this cycle “Chansons Grises”. This influence together with the literary one, are highlighted at the Louis Couperus Museum.
The Mesdag Collection is the third museum involved in the “Chansons Grises” project. It is located in Mesdag’s former home and museum. Both are now a branch of the well-known Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
At the Mesdag Collection, porcelain and other tableware designed by Peter George d’Angelino Tap is exhibited in quite an interesting manner. Here d’Angelino Tap certainly shows that tableware can become table-wear!
Of the three museums, two are only open to visitors on certain days of the week. The Panorama Mesdag has a small, decent museum café and shop. Of the other two, the Mesdag Collection has a small coffee corner, but there are restaurants and café’s nearby. The three the Hague museums lie within walking distance of each other.
Il faut aussi que tu n’ailles point
Choisir tes mots sans quelque méprise
Rien de plus cher que la chanson grise
Où l’Indécis au Précis se joint.
(Paul Verlaine, “l’Art Poétique”)
Youtube “Chansons Grises”