A dear New York friend tipped me off on this fab outing which ended in me not only seeing, but touching authentic Folies Bergère costumes. You see, the former Folies Bergères director Hélène Martini decided to auction off roughly 6,000 costumes and Belle Epoque posters from the golden era through auctioneers Bailly-Pommery & Voutier.
While there was an exhibit of all the costumes at the old stock exchange in Paris over the weekend of June 9 – 10, I was traveling and to my disappointment, had missed the exhibit even though it was still supposed to be going on when I arrived. Unsatisfied with the answer of c’est fini, after a phone call I was told that it had moved to the outskirts of Paris. So off I went.
The trek to Bagnolet was long enough so I was rather determined to see SOMETHING at that point. To my surprise, the address given was a rather large warehouse housing seemingly EVERYTHING that was on auction over the weekend in a rather informal, if cluttered, setting. There were rolling racks and boxes, people putting auctioned merchandise into bags and rather few visitors. Which was all the better for me. This meant that I got to see EVERYTHING with a bit of rummaging. It turned out to be quite the experience, and I may argue even better than seeing it on mannequins in an exhibit setting. If only those costumes could talk.. seeing everything up close and personal felt rather intimate.. to feel the weight of the garments, to wonder what the actual productions looked like at the time. I was in heaven, if only it wasn’t all sold already! I spent an hour going through everything and came back in awe and amazement that I was able to “experience” the Folies Bergère like this. I hope you enjoy rummaging through the photos of feathers, folklore, petticoats and sequins as much as I did!