The Glamorous Exhibition at MAD Inspired by "Au Bonheur des Dames"


© Les Arts Décoratifs / Christophe Dellière

Say goodbye to Iris van Herpen! For its latest flagship exhibition, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs delves into "The Birth of Department Stores: Fashion, Design, Toys, Advertising, 1852-1925", offering a true journey through time showcasing treasures from the 19th and 20th centuries. It's a chance to relive the world of "Au bonheur des Dames", Zola's iconic novel.


Department Stores Take Over Paris

Le Bon Marché, Printemps, Samaritaine, and Galeries Lafayette: these iconic establishments of the Parisian landscape all emerged in the mid-19th century! The exhibition "The Birth of Department Stores: Fashion, Design, Toys, Advertising, 1852-1925" chronicles the evolution of these institutions that democratized fashion. Remember your middle school history lessons: it all starts with the rise of the bourgeois society under the Second Empire, as industrialists, bankers, and merchants sought to assert their social status through clothing. By the 1850s, Parisians wanted luxury at their fingertips!

Baron Haussmann's renovations, the expansion of the railway network, and the industrial revolution facilitated the construction of these establishments. Le Bon Marché kicked off the trend in 1852 under the management of Aristide Boucicaut, a savvy businessman. The MAD recounts the arrival of these "Babylonian palaces", as dubbed by Émile Zola.


Clothing, Accessories, Toys, and More

After the contextualization rooms, visitors are treated to a visual feast of treasures, including posters, clothing, toys, furniture, and other wonders. Among the fashion trends of the era: ball gowns, top hats, fans, gloves, parasols, linen costumes... But it's the antique toys that captivate, from plush toys to model trains, porcelain dolls, and even a 1900 Galeries Lafayette puzzle and a 1920 Samaritaine cube set.

Another highlight of the exhibition? The sales catalogs. As early as the 1870s, the French were already ordering their clothes remotely. Dozens of pages are displayed on the museum walls, featuring illustrated articles. They reveal the most desirable products of the time, including corsets, canes, petticoats... not to mention some quirky items! Can you spot the periodic underwear or leather masks against wrinkles? As always, the MAD has a few surprises in store...

Until October 13th. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

Also, explore the eye-catching exhibition at the Bourse de Commerce and James Cameron's dreams at the Cinémathèque.

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Where to find it?

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

107 rue de Rivoli

75001 Paris

01 44 55 57 50

Tuileries Tuileries

Palais-royal (musee Du Louvre) Palais-royal (musee Du Louvre)

Palais-royal (musee Du Louvre) Palais-royal (musee Du Louvre)

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