Need Inspiration? Watch A Haute Couturier At Work On Your Lunch Break

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In the current exhibit, Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles and Other French National Collections, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the curators aims to shed a little light on some old-school women's issues. The museum is showcasing the influential works of 35 female artists who worked amid the social and political upheaval of 18th-century France, in spite of not being allowed to study art, display their work publicly, or receive much recognition for their contributions.

To bring a bit of our Enlightenment-era foremothers to life, haute couture designer and fashion historian Celia Reyer is working on-site through a live residency. What does that mean, exactly? Over the next few weeks, Celia will create a historically-accurate couture piece inspired by the portraits on display, using only period-appropriate techniques and materials. In that era (and this one), a lady's ensemble communicated carefully coded messages of wealth, status, and politics, so take note as Reyer gives a rare and fascinating glimpse into fashion history, design, and culture. We're giving you a sneak peek at the exhibit, but admit it: This is a pretty good reason to take a long lunch, right?

When: Celia Reyer residency: Sundays, starting March 18 through April 8, from 12 to 5 p.m. Exhibition runs through July 29.
Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW; 202-783-5000.

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How gorgeous is this gown? Those tiers are simply sublime. Reyer finished this look on the bodice with a prototype of a traditional Brunswick hooded coat.


Photo: Courtesy of Celia Reyer/Igor Djeri
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The designer adjusts draping and makes final patterning changes to a second prototype.


Photo: Courtesy of Celia Reyer/Igor Djeri
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Designer Celia Reyer in the finished gallery space inside the Museum of Women in the Arts.


Photo: Courtesy of Celia Reyer/Igor Djeri