Age: late 1940s / early 1950s
Label: Madeleine Vramant Paris. Made in France.
This is a fabulous piece of Parisian couture designed by Madeleine Vramant. Madeleine Vramant was a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, which is the ruling body for the fashion industry that determines which fashion houses are eligible for being a true haute couture house. In order to be a member, the fashion house must meet the following criteria:
Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings. 2) Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time. 3) Must have twenty full-time technical people in at least one atelier (workshop). 4) Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
Madeleine Vramant was one of only a few couturiers that kept their fashion house open during the second World War, along with Jacques Fath, Maggy Rouff, Nina Ricci and Marcel Rochas. Her garments are extremely difficult to come by - very few examples, other than sketches, can be viewed on the internet.
Retailer's label: Ensemble Shop - Eaton's of Canada. After the war, due to the devastation in Europe, it was considered gauche to dress extravagantly, so the Haute Couture houses of Paris looked to foreign markets, in particular, North America, for clients. The Ensemble Shop, which was the upscale boutique within the Eaton's department store, was a buyer of French couture, and continued to be after the war, through the 1940s. It is known that Madeleine Vramant was one of the couturiers to sell into the Canadian market.
This is an expertly constructed evening gown made of pink shantung silk. The mark of the fabric maker is stamped in the selvedge of the fabric seam (see close-up photo). The gown is made in a sleeveless style with medium width shoulder straps. The skirt is very full, with a lot of gathering at the waistline. The bodice is rather plain, but the front of the dress features a "diamond" shaped panel that extends out and beyond the skirt to either side. The skirt falls in a wide shape with an opening at the bottom center.
Material: Shantung silk. As mentioned, please note the fabric maker's stamp on the selvedge
Sizing: No size is indicated, and although this should fit a medium size, please note the following measurements for fit, taking into account the style of the dress:
Bust: 36" around, taken at the underarms
Waist: 26" around (just)
Hips: Full - meant to hang loosely
Bodice: 16" long from the shoulder to the waist, measured flat
Length: 70" at the back, measured flat, 60" at the front to the side of the "cutout" at the bottom front.
It is in very good condition with no stains, wear, tear or odors - this dress was well cared for and stored over the years. The dress may have originally had some sort of shoulder covering as that is what makes sense to me, however, the dress is quite exceptional on it own and a shoulder covering could be easily improvised.
This is a highly constructed dress, obviously of the highest quality and designed by someone with a deep knowledge of fashion and costume design. Some of Vramant's work is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in particular, a doll that was dressed by Vramant in a dress of the year 1873. This is a great example of 40s Parisian couture......a must have for the serious collector......
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