Art Deco exhibition in Gemeentemuseum The Hague

On Friday I visited the exhibition ‘Art Deco’ in the Gemeente museum in The Hague. It’s a must see for anyone who loves fashion and/or interior design. The building of the Gemeente museum is in itself very fitting for this exhibition as it is also Art Deco architecture by H.P. Berlage. The exhibition lasts until March 4, 2018.

The emergence of Art Deco, which begun in 1920 and lasted till 1939 influenced fashion, arts, architecture, interior design and industrial design. Couturier Paul Poiret had a key role in the process. Therefore he is often called the father of Art Deco. The Gemeente museum Den Haag has taken Poiret’s work and influence as the common thread running through the exhibition. Already in the first space we learn that actually Art Deco already existed in the 1910’s when the Exposition internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes was originally planned.

What you’ll see

Art Deco is a mix of different styles: Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism, combined with non-western influences. The Art Deco exhibition therefore encompasses multiple decorative styles that are all beautiful in its own right. You’ll see seductive luxury, Oriental details and geometric patterns. The movement’s heydays were in the 1920s, also called ‘The Jazz Age’. We all know the images of the Great Gatsby with all its opulence, glitter and decadence. Focusing on French Art Deco, the exhibition  holds jewellery, fashion, film, fine art, photograhy and decorative designs.

fancy dress costume, probably worn to Paul Poiret’s 1001 night party in 1911, designed by Poiret himself

Pasha in Paris

Interest in the Orient (China, Egypt, India, Japan and Russia) was widespread in the Art Deco movement. Poiret brought in awe-inspiring costumes to ballet and theatre productions. Inspired by the 1001 night fairytale, Poiret organized a themed party in 1911 that came close to a circus with elephants and all. He also designed costumes for Mata Hari.

Oriental influences in design and fabric print


Seductive Luxury and the birth of Maison Martine

Art Deco was above all about seductive luxury. Think soft fabrics, fur, velvet, silk and satin. Furniture was art work made of exclusive materials like ebony, rose wood or tulipwood. Poiret introduced motives and patterns in his designs that became the signature of Art Deco. Most popular were floral and fauna designs styled with geometric forms. It didn’t take long for him to start his own label ‘Maison Martine’ that also introduced modern inventions like the home bar and the sunken bath.


Poiret was also the first couturier to develop his own range of perfumes. (sorry Chanel!) He called the ‘Rosine” aftr his daughter. The packaging is gorgeous, with some even hand-painted! Soon after compact powder and lipstick were launched, all elegantly packaged.

Geometric design

In the 1930s, due to the industrial revolution, Art Deco took on ideas of the Cubists which was inherently  dynamic. Geometric shapes and details simulating motion,  made designs increasingly modern.

More information to visit

The Art Deco exhibition in Gemeentemuseum Den Haag lasts until March 4. For more information about tickets and opening hours, visit the website.

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