Avallon Costume Museum

We are in the heart of the Burgundy region of France, in the Costume Museum of the town of Avallon. A delightful town of large stone houses. Among its charmingly outdated buildings, a mansion of the 17th and 18th century, previously belonging to the de Condé family, was narrowly saved by Madame Carton and her two daughters, whilst her husband was planning on demolishing it to build a car park.
Twenty one years ago, the three women arrived from Amiens, during a storm, with boxes containing treasures of ancient costumes from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The storm ended, but the rain continued inside; sheltering their collection in the three rooms which were not affected, the three women set about the respectful renovation of the exceptional building, which they transformed into a costume museum. Very quickly, the ruins were transformed into a display case for their clothes and jewellery, collected over the years in auctions which they frequented religiously, in antiques shops, charity shops, car boot sales and via individuals. Their collection of over 3000 costumes, complete with accessories, mannequins, pieces of furniture and documentary archives, allows them to curate a new exhibition every year, for which the idea is usually inspired by the most recent acquisition.
Amongst their treasures is this Belle-Epoque piece by Desbuissons and Audelist. The sophistication of its decoration is typical of this period of development in all of the textile crafts: yellow pleated silk tulle placed on yellow satin and cream mousseline, decorated with lace, embroideries of silk adorned with sequins and silver beads with bronze velvet details. The S shaped silhouette of this dinner dress, underlined with stylised floral patterns, is representative of the art nouveau tastes for undulating lines.
This dress forms part of Agnès and Sylvie Carton’s collections, and is displayed at the Avallon Costume Museum. Every year the museum presents a new exhibition displaying around one hundred costumes.
Many thanks to Agnès and Sylvie Carton for their collaboration.