Claude Courtet, a true Paris gentleman and discerning expert on the City’s graphic splendors, was always a highlight of our searches across the ocean. One of the treasures from his shop near Moufftard, a centre of chic on paper now sadly gone, is the center of today’s engagement with those endeavors to bring topspins of sensibility to an effective visibility.
The subject of furs–like that of cigarettes–has become a repellent to many of us. But, as with smoking promotions, the visual power of enthusing about furs offers a still-potent means of appreciating the texture, pattern, color and attitude which we can’t afford to ignore (though we might be impelled by it to find comparable areas of stimulation).
Claude’s comprehensive attentions to the greatest lithographic concern of the Belle Epoque and Art Deco eras, namely, Draeger Freres, came upon the smashing hard-cover portfolio, Fourrures Portraits Miniatures, Edite Par Leroy & Schmid Fourrures Max, Place de la Bourse, Paris (1912; 20 pp.). This work fanfares its dazzling illustrations by way of three vignettes speaking to: 1) a connoisseur of furs who lives for October and the exposure of his collection by placing it about his flat; 2) a reverie upon winter as the golden moment for the ascendancy of furs; and 3) the special bond to furs by a doomed aristocracy in 18th century France.
The first of our bountiful strikes with bountiful dimensions, by Drian, situates the beauty of the wilds in the foyer of an opera house or theatre or concert hall where hopefully the wildness onstage will not be upstaged by the raiment!
The masterful George Barbier, setting in relief the magic of furs by way of stunning wallpaper, industrial and silk fashion design, here pulling out all the attitudinal stops at his formidable command. Barbier gives us women who live for a lucid grace not to be found in mainstream experience. A design this breathtakingly sophisticated does in fact carry a counter-charge toward those being overly self-righteous about cruelty to animals. Evolving away from fur garments can still cherish such genius of self-expression and self-control.
There are several black and white photos of women in furs back in 1912. They fail to rise above the expensive-ordinary.
Rene Vincent’s rendering (with more smashing wallpaper!) rises to the evocation of that blossoming zone we all struggle–in various ways and means–to attain.
Last and hardly least!
Charles Martin’s greatest moment–the depths of Paris as inspired by that delirious chic emanating from Fourrures Max!