Cleveland History Center’s “Si Jolie” Looks at French Fashion’s Influence in Cleveland

Sun 7/14 @ 1-4PM

France has long been virtually synonymous with high fashion couture. Once upon a time, wealthy socialite women travelled to Paris regularly to come back with trunks of clothes for the upcoming social season.

Well into the 20th century, French designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves St. Laurent exerted influence on what everyone wore — or wanted to wear. Although that influence started to wane when British youth and street fashion started to set the pace in the 60s, French fashion still has a certain cache.

A new exhibit called Si Jolie! French Fashion in Cleveland at the Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society, opening, appropriately on Bastille Day, takes a look at how French fashion has impacted Clevelanders since the 1870s. It explores those trips abroad that affluent women took and the clothes they brought back hoping to be the envy of their local friends. Learn about the slow-paced trips they took on ocean liners, which required a LOT of clothes themselves, how fittings took place, and the places in town where the women showed off their new ensembles, as well as how French fashion influenced shopping at local department stores such as Halle’s and Higbee’s.

Among the items displayed, worn by Cleveland women, are pieces by Saint Laurent, Dior, Hermès, Vuitton and the incredible, if not as well known, Charles Fredrick Worth.

The Cleveland History Center will celebrate the opening with a party in the Hanna Gardens, featuring a champagne toast, a cash bar, French-inspired treats, usic and curator-led tours of the exhibit. Tickets are $50, $40 for WRHS members.

Si Jolie/WRHS

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