Proust’s Muse, The Countess Greffulhe features 40 extraordinary fashions and accessories from the fabulous wardrobe of Élisabeth de Caraman-Chimay, the Countess Greffulhe (1860-1952). A famous beauty celebrated for her « aristocratic and artistic elegance, » the countess fascinated her contemporaries, including Marcel Proust who told her cousin, Robert de Montesquiou, « I have never seen a woman so beautiful. » When Proust wrote his great novel In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), the Countess Greffulhe was one of the primary inspirations for his immortal fictional character, Oriane, the Duchess de Guermantes, of whom he wrote, « Each of her dresses seemed like…the projection of a particular aspect of her soul. »
Proust’s Muse is based on La Mode retrouvée: Les robes trésors de la comtesse Greffulhe, an exhibition organized in Paris by Olivier Saillard, director of the Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, which is the repository of the countess’s wardrobe. Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, has organized the exhibition in New York in collaboration with Saillard.