Klimt and Couture

Posted by Laura
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Sadly the credits for this image were torn out of my copy


All of this cold weather has me feeling rather down (while I'm writing this it is below freezing in New York!), so I have taken to looking through my magazines to find the springiest, most joyful images to lighten my mood and remind me of the good weather to come. The relationship between fashion and art is reciprocal, with each constantly influencing the other in both subtle and overt ways. The use of famous paintings in editorials has a long history - whether on the wall of a staid living room setting or, as seen her, flooding the whole backdrop with a riot of colours. This editorial from a 1975 issue of French Elle matches the prettiest couture ensembles of the season against the full oeuvre of Gustav Klimt, from his most famous works to less well-known pointillist paintings. As a counterpoint to so much flowery elegance, Elle gave a breakdown of the cost of the pieces, including the fabric, hours worked and taxes. As the Franc no longer exists, it is difficult to do quick conversions (taking into consideration inflation) of the prices but the exchange rate was roughly 4.5 Francs to the US dollar for most of 1975—therefore, a dress that was 10,000 Francs (like Ungaro n° 48), would have been $2,222 which is roughly $10,126.37 today. Expensive now and very expensive then—but this shows what a great buy vintage couture is as you are getting often 100s of hours of work and the best quality design and fabrics for often a fraction of their original price (and especially when they are as pretty as these designs!). 


Editorial by Elisabeth Novick for Elle (France), March 1975.


Eve in djellaba. White guipure lace with large armholes. Ungaro. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('Mother and Child', 1909).

Ungaro, n° 48
Fabrics (guipure lace, silk, of several types) 3,450
Handwork (80 hours)                                    2,500
Taxes                                                            1,790
Wholesale price                                            7,740
Sale price                                                    10,000



Pointillism is not dead. Jacket-coat in printed chiffon, trimmed with ostrich feathers. The matching dress has thin straps. Dior. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('The Poppy Field', 1907).

Dior, n° 61
Fabrics (chiffon, ostrich feathers, of several types)        3,660
Handwork (100 hours)                                                    6,820
Taxes                                                                              1,830
Wholesale price                                                             12,310
Sale price                                                                       14,700



Arrogance in black. Dress—tube of crêpe de chine. V neck, thin bodice, very fitted. Ungaro. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('Farm and Birches', 1900).

Ungaro, n° 52
Fabrics (crêpe de chine, of several types)      800
Handwork (50 hours)                                   2,225
Taxes                                                              935
Wholesale price                                           3,950
Sale price                                                     5,500



Ingenue in white. Chemise dress in crêpe Georgette embroidered with crystals around the neck. Sleeves like butterfly wings. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('Park', around 1910).

Nina Ricci, "Judith"
Fabrics (crêpe Georgette, embroidery, of several types)          1,777
Handwork (60 hours)                                                                2,400
Taxes                                                                                        2,465
Wholesale price                                                                        6,642
Sale price                                                                                  8,900



If the gown could talk... I'd like in in crêpe de Chine please. Ungaro. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('Female Friends', 1915).

Ungaro, n° 56
Fabrics (crêpe de Chine, of several types)        540
Handwork (40 hours)                                      1,750
Taxes                                                                  768
Wholesale price                                               3,058
Sale price                                                         4,500



Blue monochrome. Blue, a floating dress of crêpe de chine. Blue, a poncho of chiffon. Nina Ricci. Green light from a painting by Gustav Klimt ('The Park of Schönbrunn', 1916).

Nina Ricci, "Reflections"
Fabrics (chiffon, crêpe de chine, embroidery, of several types)     1,286
Handwork (55 hours)                                                                      2,200
Taxes                                                                                              2,122
Wholesale price                                                                             5,608
Sale price                                                                                       8,000



A baroque flight of pleated silk chiffon. Pleated short capelet. Knotted belt. Briefly: a woman-flower on a forest background. Jean-Louis Scherrer. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('Beechwood Forest', 1902)

Scherrer, n° 42
Fabrics (crêpe Georgette, of several types)        2,236.90
Handwork (78 hours)                                               2,340
Taxes                                                                      914.30
Wholesale price                                                  5,491.20
Sale price                                                                8,900



Black humor and colorful love. Yves Saint Laurent. Painting by Gustav Klimt ('The Young Girls', 1913).

Saint Laurent, n° 13
Fabrics (embroidery, fabric, of several types)    7,016
Handwork (90 hours)                                         3,600
Taxes                                                                  3,593
Wholesale price                                               14,209
Sale price                               14,000 (a loss of 209 F)

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