Le Cercle Français au Musée Avenir

Story by Paula Alaszkiewicz

Two mannequins dressed in historic dresses in front of a screen
Items from the Avenir Collection complemented Curator Paula Alaszkiewicz’s presentation.

On Sept. 28, the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising hosted an afternoon with the Le Cercle Français, the French Club at Colorado State University. Paula Alaszkiewicz, curator at the Avenir Museum and assistant professor in the Department of Design and Merchandising, presented in French about French fashion history to a group of more than thirty students and faculty members.

“I was delighted when Dr. Frédérique Grim, a professor of French and advisor of Le Cercle Français, invited me to give a presentation,” said Alaszkiewicz.. “I added an additional layer of French history to my presentation by focusing on the French fashions displayed at Parisian international exhibitions from 1900 to 1937.” As Alaszkiewicz explained, “These celebrations of culture, industry, and innovation were important venues for designers to exhibit their latest collections.”

Avenir collection features

A historical hat on a table
Historic Schiaparelli hat.

Hosting the French Club at the Avenir Museum allowed for the opportunity to complement the images on Alaszkiewicz’s slides with historical garments from Museum’s collection. The fashionable silhouettes from the periods of the three international exhibitions she discussed—1900, 1925, and 1937—were represented on dressed mannequins. One silk dress from the 1920s was presented flat on a table due to the heavy weight of its beading and embroidery.

Label inside a historical hat reaching Schiaparelli
Hat with Schiaparelli label.

Additionally, Alaszkiewicz showed three hats by the designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who famously refused to dress her mannequin at the 1937 exhibition because she found the 7-foot tall and anatomically disproportionate plaster figure “not at all in keeping with the spirit of smart dressing.”

“’Merci beaucoup’ to the French Club for inviting me to present my work,” said Alaszkiewicz.  I look forward to more collaborative events together in the future!”

The Avenir Museum is in the Department of Design and Merchandising, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.