To enable a better understanding of the Impressionists' perspective on fashion, their works will be displayed alongside those of their contemporaries of the likes of Tissot and Stevens who concentrated even more on portraying Parisian women and the elegant society of the Second Empire and the early days of the Third Republic.
Paintings will sit side by side with displays of around 50 dresses and accessories, including ten hats which give an overview of the fashion of the era that saw the gradual decline of crinoline skirts in favor of the bustle. Men's fashion, although less varied and more uniform, is evoked through some 20 pieces. The period clothing comes from public or private collections in France.
An important documentary display will also bring together designs and fashion magazines, including La dernière mode, a short-lived review edited by Mallarmé, as well as photographs from the Disdéri studio.
The Musée d'Orsay is organizing a host of exhibition-related activities including workshops and guided tours for children as well as a special night at the museum during Paris Fashion Week with a fashion show in the nave by students from Paris-based fashion school Studio Berçot. The musuem will also organize six showings of the "Fashion Designers and Film Sets" film program which looks back at the relationships between French fashion heavyweights and movie directors such as Christian Dior and Alfred Hitchcock or Gabrielle Chanel and Mervyn LeRoy.
The exhibition opens at Paris's Musée d'Orsay on September 25 (and runs until January 20, 2013), and will move onto New York where it will feature at the Metropolitan Museum of Art February 19 - May 27, and then to Chicago for the final stop at the city's Art Institute June 29 - September 22.