The Exhibition

Napoleon & The Empire of Fashion (1795-1815) traces the development of costume from the sensual and extravagant Directoire period to the formal, sober clothing and behaviour of the Bourbon restoration and shows how Napoleon, surprisingly, used fashion as an instrument of power.

This exhibition displays the diverse styles worn during the day, at night and even in the court of the Emperor Napoleon.  You will also see the changes in clothing according to the seasons and the fundamental stages of life: marriage, maternity, birth and death.

Painstakingly restored and cleaned, the clothes are presented almost exactly as they were when they were new so that you are able to appreciate the high quality of materials, craftsmanship and design that were employed during the birth of democratic, international fashion.

Fashion prints from the period are compared to the costumes on display and also to trace the unavoidable path from ‘objects of desire’ to ‘fashion victim’; enlightening us, not without some touches of irony, on the roots of today’s fashion system.

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