Couture Clown Costume French, 1920s
One piece, of green satin, with low waist and wide curved panier hip line sewn with side pockets, the sides tapering to mid-calf legs, the front bodice applied with large smiling but sinister gold lame clown head with hand colored features outlined with purple cord, the ovoid eyes of wood covered with hand painted satin, the corresponding area at back applied with brown tinted plush 'hair' and long pigtail, the overall body front and back decorated with pink and gold lame appliques of abstract biomorphic forms, flowerheads and starfish, all outlined with couched gold and silk threads, and surrounded by fields of silver and blue sequins in vermiculate pattern.
Good condition, shows wear, especially interior, some discolorations, silk worn in one applique, sleeves possibly removed.
The costume was commissioned in Paris at a couture establishment, possibly Lanvin, by the vice council to the Netherlands in France to wear as Master of Ceremonies for a charity circus held in Lille, where he resided. Subsequently, he decided to wear the costume as a spoof to a formal dinner party given by English relatives at their country estate, where it was de rigueur to 'dress for dinner.' He wanted to teach his stuffy, as he saw them, English relatives a lesson in Gallic joie de vivre. To his chagrin, the reserved English character held sway, and none of the assembled company reacted or commented on his attire. He spent a long evening feeling conspicuous, but used the story for years after to teach his children a lesson in humility.
Additional Notes & Condition Report
No condition report? Click here to request one.