Countess Greffulhe wearing a ball dress by Otto.
In 1918, Vogue reported that Countess Élisabeth Greffulhe, patron to some of the Belle Epoque’s most prominent artists and the reigning queen of the Parisian salon scene, would often visit the Louvre and Carnavalet museums in search of inspiration for her toilette. “She obtained ideas from these prints for the dresses which we all admired,” the magazine wrote. Now, through several donations made by her heirs, the Countess’s exquisite wardrobe is making its way back within museum walls at the Palais Galliera’s exhibition “La Mode Retrouvée” opening November 7.
For Olivier Saillard, curator and director of the Palais Galliera, “Countess Greffulhe’s wardrobe represents exceptional haute couture dresses of great artistic quality with unique and rare literary references.” He is, of course, referring to the character of the Duchess of Guermantes, famously inspired by the Countess, in Marcel Proust’s epic work, In Search of Lost Time. The regal beauty was also immortalized in lyrics penned by the charming playboy poet (and her cousin) Robert de Montesquiou.