Dresses that captured the essence of Parisian joie de vivre go on sale as former director of the Folies Bergère music hall auctions off her collection
By DAMIEN GAYLE
Feathers galore are up for sale in Paris this weekend, as the extravagant headdresses, boas, and sparkling scanty costumes of the Folies Bergère music hall find a new home with the highest bidder.
The symbol of Parisian 'joie de vivre' at the turn of the century, the Folies Bergère was a palace of taboo-busting sensuality, replete with nearly-nude showgirls performing erotic striptease.
Shows also played up the 'exoticness' of people and objects from other cultures, satisfying the Parisian fascination with the négritude of the Twenties.
Frou frou: Costumes from the Folies Bergère are displayed at the Palais de la Bourse as part of the 'Ventes de folie' auction in Paris on June 8
Will it suit me? People look at the costumes on display, which all come from the collection of former director Hélène Martini, who ran the famous Parisian nightclub for 37 years
Now, some 6,000 costumes, posters, programs and paraphernalia from the collection of former director Hélène Martini will be sold on June 9 and 10 by auctioneers Bailly-Pommery & Voutier.
Plumage, sequins, glitter, and all manner of frou-frou feature in the auction, from a five-tiered floral crinoline worthy of the most enthusiastic can-can to avant-garde headdresses.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2156812/6-000-costumes-collection-historic-Folies-Berg-music-hall-auctioned-director-87.html#ixzz1xKri8VvkEstelle Daniere, the Folies' last chorus line leader, said she was moved to see all the old costumes on display the old stock exchange in Paris.
Empress of the night: Former Folies Bergères director Hélène Martini said she is 'not a girl who makes a song and dance about the past'
'If they could talk, what would they say? They'd have plenty of anecdotes,' Ms Daniere, wearing a sparkling silver number with a high slit, told reporters at a viewing yesterday.
'I hope they find someone who will give them a second life,' she said. 'They deserve it - to find the limelight again and do another show.'
Mrs Martini - dubbed the 'empress of the night' - managed the famous Parisian club for 37 years until 2000, as well as a 16 other venues in Paris, New York and Los Angeles.
Explaining her reason for the sale of the artifacts, she told Le Parisien: 'I've worked enough, I'm almost 90. I'm not a girl who makes a song and dance about the past.'
During its glory days, the Folies Bergère inspired painters such as Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec, who depicted the barmaids and dancers as well as their ogling admirers.
It also provided a rapt audience for the top talents of the music-hall stage, from Montmartre cabaret star Jane Avril to the jazz-era darling Josephine Baker.
Ms Baker became an overnight sensation at the venue when she performed the Danse sauvage, wearing a costume consisting of a skirt made of a string of artificial bananas and little else.
Her erotic dancing and near nude performances were renowned and emblematic of the spirit of the Folies Bergère.
Colourful: A palace of taboo-busting sensuality, the Folies Bergère was a symbol of Parisian 'joie de vivre' at the turn of the century
'I hope they find someone who will give them a second life': Estelle Daniere, the Folies' last chorus line leader, said she was moved to see all the old costumes on display the old stock exchange in Paris
Grand: This incredible avant garde dress is typical of the out-there, hedonistic spirit of the Folies Bergère
A piece of history: A woman looks at costume mock ups from the Folies Bergère
Behind the scenes work: A man views planning pictures, showing stage mock ups and performers
The main Folies revue, long a tourist fixture that faded with age, was shelved a decade ago, but the venue is still used for concerts and other shows.
Russian-born French artist Erte, a Folies Bergère collaborator, features prominently in the auction, with about 200 of his lithographs and silk screens depicting elegant women in Art Deco regalia for sale.
Dozens of original costume sketches by Michel Gyarmathy, longtime artistic director of the Folies, are on sale, as are small-scale models of sets, now a bit dusty.
Hey day: How a performer would have looked in the golden era of the Folies Bergère. Right, the famous Josephine Baker, who became on overnight sensation at the club with her Danse sauvage
Fans of Belle Epoque poster art can find colourful posters advertising the music hall signed by famed artist Jules Cheret, estimated at about £325.
Collectors and the curious who came to Friday's viewing were awed by the racks and racks of costumes, whether cheetah outfits, French Revolution-era get-ups or petticoats by the dozen.
A group of women pulled up the skirt of a modest-looking black dress to reveal a cascade of bright yellow ruffles. Another woman eyed a red feather that fell on the floor and snatched it up as a souvenir.
The Folies Bergère facade: Located at 32 rue Richer in the 9th Arrondissement, it was built as an opera house by the architect Plumeret and patterned after the Alhambra music hall in London
Most of the costumes in the auction appear to hail from the Seventies and Eighties, and some are pure kitsch.
One five-piece ensemble is all satin panther print, accessorized by a swirling panther cape with fuchsia lining and a black feathered headdress.
Another, the 'Pineapple Dress,' features a sequined and feathered pineapple at the derriere, estimated between £100-£120.
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