Something Special this Mother's Day
The Provençal Costume and Jewellery Museum is an unexpected treat when visiting the French town of Grasse. Most visitors arrive to see the local perfumery and museum named in honour of the 18th century Rococo artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, whose father was a master glove maker and perfumer. Jean-Honoré’s love of flowers is evident in the perfect, plump roses that invariably appear in his romantic paintings. Among the town’s cluster of museums and places of interest, textile lovers should seek out the former residence of the Marchioness of Cabris. This time weathered house, that was a Tribunal during the Revolution, now houses a private collection of 18th and 19th century Provençal costume. The collection is curated by Hélène Costa, granddaughter of Eugene Fuchs who, in 1926, founded Perfumerie Fragonard. Her contribution to the family business is made through the costume and jewellery of the region. Most pieces on display were made or worn by the women who were employed tending the fields of blowsy Provence roses, tuberose and jasmine. The floral motif spread to their costume, in their use of a multiplicity of the vibrant ‘Indienne’ cottons that were imported through Marseille in the late 18th century and became so popular that they provoked a spate of imitators. Typically they combined vibrant florals and paisleys in a startling mix of colours and patterns to brighten the traditional combination of tightly fitted bodice with full skirts that were slightly shorter to avoid trailing on the ground as they worked. A contrasting fitchu was worn crossed over the bodice, and often a large gem-set cross on a ribbon at the base of the throat. Three year subscribers will each receive a set of four Fragonard perfumed soaps – decorated in patterns from the museum's archives. Pretty and delicious these floral soaps would be a treat for anyone. Combined with the latest copies of Selvedge they'd make a perfect gift for Mother's Day on 6 March. Subscribe to Selvedge HERE. This is an extract from Sarah Jane Downing's article in issue 52 of Selvedge.