Theatre de la Mode Dolls at Maryhill Museum
Last week I got to go with my husband to a conference in Seattle, and afterward we had two days to see some of Washington’s other sights. I could have had a difficult time choosing which to visit, but fortunately I remembered the Théâtre de la Mode, and that is where we went.
The Maryhill Museum of Art is in Goldendale, Washington, about 220 miles from Seattle. It turned out to be a great side trip from Seattle, bringing us through about four of Washington’s ecoregions, letting us experience a variety of rock formations, and plant life from towering pines to sagebrush steppes, within short distances. We had some pockets of fog, but for most of the trip the weather was clear and sunny, and we got to enjoy spectacular fall foliage that we never have in Texas.
I knew that just one third of the dolls are exhibited at a time, but even that made for a rich display.
The first grouping of dolls is in a set by Jean Cocteau, that was inspired by a movie called “Ma Femme est une Sorcière” (My Wife is a Witch). An apt setting for today, Halloween. (But I wonder what the fashion designers thought about their beautiful creations being placed in a scene of destruction, especially Marcel Rochas who designed a wedding dress that ended up being displayed on a supine doll, instead of upright in all its glory. On the other hand, with all the wartime destruction they had endured, maybe it didn’t strike them as unique.)
The dolls are displayed out in the open, not behind glass, which allows you to see them really well, and photography is allowed. I was thrilled to be able to take all the pictures I wanted, to really zoom in on the details, but I didn’t find the right camera settings to compensate for the low light conditions, and most of my pictures did not turn out well.
The Scène de Rue was created when the dolls underwent restoration for their 40th anniversary. The dress on the far right above, is credited to Lucile Manguin on the museum card, but I believe it is the same dress is credited to Maggy Rouff in the book Théâtre de la Mode.
I was so thrilled to get to see these dolls in person! I guess I will have to go back twice more to see the other sets!
If you get a chance to go, be aware that the museum is only open for the year from March 15 to November 15. But during that time, it is open every day, which makes it easy to fit a visit into your itinerary.
And you can see the second collection, the Merci Train dolls, online from the Brooklyn Museum.
I think I like that last photo best! When I first looked at it, I thought it was a little girl! That is really adorable.
This portion of the museum is really good. Take several days, it all is truly worth it. My favorite is a little wooden chest said to be made out of a beam from the Mayflower, several floors down from the Theatre de la Mode. And then there are the study pieces by Auguste Rodin.
Unfortunately, I only had about 2 hours! and I may never get back. I did see the Rodin pieces though, and also all the Native American crafts. I am glad I got to visit, even for a short while.
Nothing but amazing craftsmanship the clothes as well as the dolls. Thank you for sharing, Mtetar
I am in awe of that craftsmanship too!
I am SO glad you had the chance to see these. What a treat that must have been, even with a 4 hour drive each way. I can imagine you smiling all the way back to Seattle. 🙂
I was so glad to see them — it felt like seeing Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Smithsonian!
So inspiring.. I’m so glad you saw these and even more so that you shared this..
I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
Thank you, Chris
Thank you! I have enjoyed reading about them, but they were even more impressive in person!
I’m not a doll person, but I would do serious damage to get my hands on one of these. The then-contemporary outfits are knockouts. Your husband is seriously devoted to you.
He is very indulgent. On the other hand, I failed to mention to him that there is an antique car museum in Tacoma, only one hour away from where we were staying in Seattle. Next time! 🙂
If he’s into old cars, I should mention the Crawford Auto Museum in Cleveland, in case you’re ever up this way. Even I was interested in the early, pre-Henry Ford cars made in the Cleveland area.
That would be interesting! We have been to old car museums in the Portland, Maine area, Las Vegas, somewhere in Oklahoma I think, and right here in the neighboring town of Magnolia, Texas. I don’t understand any of the mechanics of them, but I do love looking at the dashboard and upholstery designs.
Such structure in the gowns of the past! I would not have wanted to construct or wear them, but they are beautiful to look at.
You look maahhvelous my dhear! Yes those clothes are to die for, did get to look/read the book about them. So glad you got to see them.
I felt maahhvelous! It was good to visit with the dolls. 🙂
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Those dolls are amazing. Will come back and have another look on another day.
You might be even more interested in the second set, that are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because they represent a fashion timeline, and they might help with dating photographs.
That’s a good idea.