Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend Reading 9: The Actress: Lantelme and the Couturier

"I had contrived to get a photograph of Lantelme; it adorned my dressing table and I made desperate efforts to look like her, dress my hair in the same way, wear the same clothes." Misia Sert

Lantelme and the couturier Madeleine Vionnet.  
Easter Weekend reading for you from RARE vintage.  Part Two in our series on Lantelme.  Read on...

In 1906 Madeleine Vionnet accepted an offer from Jacques Doucet.  He agreed to let her design her own models.  Her first act was to create dresses to be 'worn against the skin' by the mannequins.  She eliminated a high necked, long sleeved sheath over which the dresses were presented.  It was considered improper to show too much skin.  

Her models were worn primarily by actresses who were clients of Doucet: Cécile Sorel, Eve Lavalliere, Réjane and Lantelme.  
Photograph of Lantelme inscribed to Madeleine Vionnet.
"One day I created a straight dress for Lantelme.  It's a layering of three chemises of striped and white foulard.  The saleswomen were in panic and asked Doucet to have it removed from the collection."

"The saleswomen use to say about my models, 'We won't talk about those dresses'.

But Lantelme, the French actress, admired Vionnet's deshabilles that could be worn in public.  

Lantelme in a mandarin negligee by Vionnet.  1910

Lantelme introduced Vionnet to her very wealthy husband the newspaper magnate Alfred Charles Edwards.  Edwards had left his wife Misia Sert for Lantelme.  Misia Sert famously went on to become the best friend and confidant of Coco Chanel.   Edwards offered Vionnet 400,000 francs if she could find the other 400,000 francs to start her own business.  "In fact, he told me that because he was certain I would not find the money." said Vionnet.  

But then Lantelme died.  Lantelme drowned while she was yachting with her husband.  A doctor who was summoned by Edwards to scene of the tragedy recalled that he allowed the body to remain in the water at the end of the rope all night and it was not until the following evening, twenty four hours later that it was taken out. - The New York Times (Is there a mystery here?  Does anyone know more?)

In 1911 Paris was astounded by the news that the tomb of the celebrated Parisian actress Lantelme was broken into and valuable jewels were torn from her body and carried off.  Much mystery surrounds the desecration of the grave.  When the guardians first discovered the violation they lighted newspapers but then the whole of the sepulchre was soon in flames.  It was soon proved that the report that ghouls had stolen the jewels from the vault was proven untrue.  They were found underneath her head.  - The New York Times

Lantelme's husband died in 1914 and left his fortune to Mlle. Colonna Romans  of the Theatre Francais who one of the most faithful friends of his last wife Lantelme.

Vionnet was unable to find backers and opened what she called "a tiny little business on rue de Rivoli."

And because it is Easter, Lantelme in some bonnets:

Some text and photos from Madeleine Vionnet edited by Pamela Golbin.

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