AN EVENING AT THE UNIVERSITÉ MONDAINE

Coquetry is “a difficult art to practise” and “a fine subject that novelists and playwrights have as yet only touched upon”. On Tuesday 23 January, 1912, the couturier E. M. Green gave an astonishing lecture at 23, boulevard des Capucines as part of the so-called Université Mondaine (“university of high society”).

Entitled “La Mode et la Coquetterie”, the lecture was a lesson in modern style for elegant women, illustrated by a parade of “living sketches” and interspersed with musical interludes including a ‘mimed and danced minuet’ performed by Mademoiselle Raphaële Degennes.

Green laid out the golden rules for the style of the twentieth century (which he referred to as toute une époque: an era to be reckoned with) via a light-hearted debate with Madame Frappa, the ironic and petulant embodiment of the fashion of yesteryear. Devambez recorded this exclusive soirée in a little book with meticulously executed illustrations, once again reflecting the firm’s interest in elegance as a way of striving for perfection.

Green, E. M., La Mode et la Coquetterie, Paris, Devambez, 1912