Today, (13th of June) Newbridge Silverware and the Museum of Style Icons launched an exhibition which pays homage to the most iconic names in fashion that ever lived. The exhibition ‘Fashion and Fantasy – a Lifetime Curation of Haute Couture’ contains a collection of one off or extremely rare designer pieces which date from the 1950’s to the 2000’s. The pieces, which have been curated and collected by German native Monika Gottlieb are either one off Haute Couture pieces that were made by a designer for a runway show or are one off creations, made to measure for a private client. The priceless, private collection curated by international fashion collector, Gottlieb includes rare and one of a kind pieces by Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, Balmain, and Hermes among many others.
One of the most interesting pieces is a green cocktail, silk taffeta dress which was designed by Christian Dior in 1957 but was not finished until 1959 when Yves Saint Laurent had to complete the collection, due to the sudden death of Dior. The ‘Diorama’ dress is a perfect example of Dior’s signature design and features an hourglass silhouette with a nipped in waist, full skirt, bow and green fringing, which is not sewn on, rather it is pulled from the silk itself. It was Dior who would change the course of fashion history, he dominated the world of fashion in the late 1940s and 1950s and everyone wanted to copy his voluptuous ‘new look’.
Ironically, the year before he died in a letter to his friend, Jacques Rouet, Dior had written, “Yves Saint Laurent is young, but he is an immense talent. In my last collection, I consider him to be the father of thirty-four out of the 180 designs. I think the time has come to reveal it to the press. My prestige won’t suffer from it.”
Just one year later following the sudden death of Dior from a heart attack, the young Saint Laurent was tasked with bringing his mentor’s vision to life and at the age of just 21 he became the world’s youngest couturier and finished the collection that Dior had started. This green, cocktail dress which will go on show at the Museum of Style Icons has come out of a private collection and has never been shown before to the public. It bears the DNA of Dior and the finger prints of Yves Saint Laurent.
The piece is particularly precious to Monika Gottlieb who is one of the few surviving people in the world who personally knew and met Christian Dior. “I first met Christian Dior when I was just a 4-year-old child and was visiting the Dior House in Avenue Montaigne with my mother. I remember well that Dior was in his white shirt which all the couture designers wore at the time, a he offered me chocolate. I will never forget this moment because at this time of my life I had several eye surgeries and that white shirt looked so familiar to me. It made me think of the doctors in their white coats. But I never got chocolate from the doctors! So, I kept this visit with all the wonderful things around that famous atelier in my mind all these years.”
Monika credit’s her mother’s style for her own life-long love of fashion. She recognised at a very early age that incredible designs and one of a kind Haute Couture pieces were extremely valuable, and she started to collect pieces she loved from a very early age. She has now amassed hundreds of rare, vintage pieces with over 200 items coming to Newbridge Silverware including some stunning designer coats, jewellery, shoes, bags, gowns and even luggage. There are also some unusual items such as a miniature Dior chair, fashion drawings, Christmas cards signed by various designers and a limited-edition Barbie doll made by Mattel in 1997. This unusual Barbie shows the famous new look of 1947 when Christian Dior changed the fashion world.
There are also several vintage and one off jewellery pieces including cuffs, earrings, necklaces and broaches. A stunning pair of vintage Chanel earrings with red coloured stones and Swarovski crystals which was especially made for the famous fashion house for a couture show in Paris in 1970 is one of the many eye-catching jewellery inclusions. The earrings were made for Chanel by Gripoix, a third generation jewellery design house that was founded in 1868. Gripoix had the knowledge to make the red coloured stones out of powder and heat. The stones in this particular set are called, ‘Pate de Verre’ and there are no more than three pairs of these earrings to be found anywhere in the world.
Lacroix, the designer much loved by Eva Mendes and Rachel McAdams features prominently in the exhibition. A standout piece in the collection is Lacroix’s stunning 1998 Haute Couture wool red coat which was made as a one-off piece for a runway show. The wool is ‘laine cardee lustree’, whereby the wool has been painstakingly heated and combed several times to make the natural wool fibres lengthen and drape down the garment so that they would take on the appearance of fine fringes.
Visitors to the Haute Couture exhibition will also see vintage designer Chanel bags and handbags made by Italian fashion designer Roberta di Camerino who is regarded as one of the most important handbag designers of the last century. Camerino started her company in 1946 in Venice and just a few years later was honoured by The White House for her efforts to improve trade between the USA and Italy. Her exclusive bags were seen on the arms of a host of style icons including Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor.
The Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware regularly changes its exhibitions, offering something for music fans, film buffs and fashionistas as well as keeping permanent displays in place dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Grace Kelly and even Kim Kardashian. among many others. Visiting exhibitions at the Kildare attraction have included Marilyn Monroe’s famous gold dress which she wore while singing Happy Birthday to JFK, an exhibition dedicated to Lord of the Rings and most recently a Nirvana and Kurt Cobain exhibition.
William Doyle is the instigator of the Museum of Style Icons and created the museum after he bought a very famous black dress. “The little black Givenchy ensemble worn by Audrey Hepburn in ‘Charade’ started it all. We bought the dress at an auction at Christie’s of London 11 years ago and it started from there. We actually set out to buy the floor-length sleeveless black Givenchy sheath worn by Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s l961 romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but was outbid by an anonymous French telephone bidder. We didn’t know it of course at the time but the other bidder turned out to be Givenchy himself who was desperate to have the dress back. We continued to bid for the dress but the price sky-rocketed and was eventually sold for €607,000 – seven times its pre-sale estimate. We did buy a number of other Audrey Hepburn items however, and that fateful day at Christie’s marked the start of our passion for collecting and it has really gone from there.”
“We buy notable artefacts which we believe our visitors will appreciate. The Museum of Style Icons is unique in that visitors can see all kinds of rare and beautiful pieces which were once owned or worn by some of the greatest names of the big screen or of the fashion or music world. The museum has permanent displays which are always available to view but we often have visiting exhibitions, such as our newest couture exhibition which Monika Gottlieb has just unveiled. It is with great pleasure that we get an opportunity to share the collections to the public who appreciate the chance to savour something special, something unique and quite often something very rare and of huge historical importance.
I appreciate great design – innovation, style and creativity forms the very corner stone of our business. The Museum of Style Icons offers us the opportunity to showcase the greatest designs of the last century. Fashion is one of the most powerful storytellers in the world, it captures a moment in time and in history and is often reflective of the demographic and popular culture of the day. We have so many special artefacts and garments in the museum but if I were pushed to choose my all-time favourite, as a Beatles fan it would have to be the four matching Beatles suits with the mandarin collars. They are the only surviving matching suits left in the world which were worn by the fab four and are a ‘must see’ exhibit for any Beatles fan.”
The Museum of Style Icons contains one of the most unique collections of fashion and cinema memorabilia in the world and welcomes over 350,000 visitors a year. The free to enter museum has several permanent exhibitions dedicated to design and style while celebrating some of the world’s most iconic personalities from the worlds of fashion, film and entertainment.
The exhibition is free to enter and will remain in place until October 2019.