Jules François Crahay: Back in the Spotlight
Fashion and Lace Museum, Bruxelles, BE
23.02. – 10.11.2024

Jules François Crahay: Back in the Spotlight Fashion and Lace Museum, Bruxelles, BE 23.02. – 10.11.2024

Nina Ricci haute couture, spring-summer 1960, ensemble with bolero, dress and bow belt in wild silk fluted fabric. Fashion & Lace Museum © Louis Kerckhof

The name Jules François Crahay may not mean very much to you, and yet… This Belgian is one of the last geniuses of couture. For the first time, and thanks to extensive research, the museum is devoting an exhibition to him. An opportunity to discover or rediscover this undeservedly forgotten couturier.

‘A new star is rising in the firmament of Parisian fashion’, journalist John Fairchild wrote in Women’s Wear Daily in 1959. Jules François Crahay had just signed his first collection for the Nina Ricci fashion house. It was showered with praise and brought in countless orders. The press compared him to Christian Dior. The subsequent collections confirmed his reputation as a master of couture.

In 1964, he joined the Maison Lanvin, where he created some 40 haute couture collections and more ready-to-wear garments.

He dressed celebrities like Claudia Cardinale, Princess Paola and Jackie Kennedy. His unique creativity and independent thinking opened the way to Belgian designers like Martin Margiela, Olivier Theyskens and Nicolas di Felice at the head of prestigious Parisian fashion houses.

Jules François Crahay. Back in the spotlight traces the long and fascinating career of this fashion virtuoso. Beyond a biographical aim, the exhibition seeks to define and enhance the renown of this designer’s unique style. As artistic director of the Nina Ricci fashion house between 1959 and 1963 and then at Lanvin from 1964 to 1984, Crahay set the tone for a light, playful, romantic fashion, a touch theatrical but always perfectly in control.

While his couture was not one to break boundaries or use statement-women, it was marked by independence and sometimes dictated fashion, shaping it through its passion for folklore and exoticism. And keeping its distance from both purism and futurism. He excelled, in particular, in the manipulation of fabrics, colours and motifs.

The exhibition covers half a century of the history of fashion while tracing the career of this little-known Belgian couturier. The Fashion & Lace Museum unveils its unique collection built up over the years. A selection of haute couture and ready-to-wear samples from this collection is supplemented by outstanding loans from the Palais Galliera – City of Paris Fashion Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Patrimoine Lanvin and other public or private collections. 65 silhouettes, accompanied by sketches, photos, films and archival documents bring to life the person and work of the famous yet forgotten couturier.

More information: https://www.fashionandlacemuseum.brussels/en/expos/jules-francois-crahay-belgian-first-exhibition-one-of-the-last-geniuses-of-couture-compared-to-christian-dior-haute-couture

Jules François Crahay, 1962 Fashion & Lace Museum

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