#05 the classical
The Golden Age
With the Belle Epoque (1879-1914), France enters a period of economic growth and becomes an international financial center. Paris in the swing of full modernization becomes the City of Light and the center of technical innovations. Completed for the 1889 World’s Fair, the iconic Eiffel Tower is an architectural feat that embodies French industrial engineering.
Parisian haute couture, thanks in part to the growth of the specialized press and the development of the first international sales networks, sets new standards in Western fashion. Thus from 1880, Leavers lace comes into its golden age and definitively takes precedence over hand-made lace. To meet worldwide order demands, the opening of new lace manufacturers increases in Calais and Caudry.
Alongside this growth, images are now reproducible at will. Thanks to photography, everyone can afford a portrait to distribute via cartes de visites and postcards. Cléo de Mérode (1875-1966), aristocrat and star dancer, becomes known by this means and becomes an icon of beauty beyond all borders. Iconographic tributes multiply and the beauty poses for the painter Degas as well as for the sculptor Falguière. A symbolic muse, she nourishes the romantic myth of angelic beauty and embodies the organic and sinuous lines of the Art Nouveau spirit.