Femmes Fatales in the Gemeentemuseum

A week ago I finally got the chance to drop by the current fashion exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum in the Hangue. Named ‘Femmes Fatales’, it’s a tribute to female fashion designers. It was a lovely exhibition, with some beautiful pieces by both early 19th century (Chanel, Lanvin, etc) and 20th century female designers.

However, I spent most time in the first room, which was dedicated to the 18th century female dressmakers, the marchandes de modes. There was a whole range of beautiful dresses on display, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures!

The descriptions are the originals as provided by the museum.


Mantua, ca. 1760-65, Silk, Linen



Robe A l’Anglaise, ca. 1780-1785. Silk, cotton



Robe A la Francaise, ca 1790-1794, Silk



Robe a L’Anglaise, ca. 1765-1770, Silk, Linen



Robe A la Francaise, ca 1775-1785 Silk, linen, whalebone



Over dress and skirt, (altered, skirt originally ca 1740-1760). Ca. 1780-1790, silk, linen, metal.



Robe A L’Anglaise (altered). ca 1775-1799, Silk, linen, cotton



Girl’s gown. Ca. 1770-1775, Silk, linen, whalebone



Robe A la Franciaise (missing part replaced during conservation). Ca 1740-1760, Silk, linen



Robe A L’anglaise, ca 1790-1794, silk, linen



Robe A l’Anglaise (altered in 1930), ca. 1775-1780, silk, linen



Robe a la Francaise, ca. 1780-1795, silk


6 thoughts on “Femmes Fatales in the Gemeentemuseum

  1. Wow, so many of those skirt pleats look like cartridge pleats! Especially that green dress, I think I can see the kind of whip stitch at the top of the pleat you would see with a traditional cartridge pleat. I wonder if they are just very small knife pleats?

    • I’m pretty sure they are actual cartridge pleats to be honest. I’ve seen another dress in this museum up close from the inside, and you can see there that there’s a thread run through to keep them in place. Very small knife pleats don’t keep their shape like this I believe. I still want to look into this a bit more, due to the whole ‘no cartridge pleats in the 18th century’ thing. My personal suspicion is that this is a regional preference, as I see it a lot on Dutch gowns in particular, but I haven’t studied any of these for alterations, so it’s difficult to be sure.

    • I can’t really say for sure. I hadn’t thought of that, but I also haven’t really seen much tatting with different colors, so it could be due to that. I’d love to be able to say more, but I’m definitely no expert in 18th century trim making.

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