PAST: Princess Marie-José - Between Belgium and Italy

A Royal Wardrobe
Wed 03-10-2012 - Sun 03-03-2013

The Court of Savoy

Marie-José (1906-2001) was the daughter of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. Under the influence of her mother, this princess grew up in a highly refined art-loving and musical milieu. In 1930, she married the Italian Crown Prince Umberto, which required adapting to a glittering, but rigid, court in a fascist environment, far removed from the values of the Belgian court. This duality was reflected in her prestigious wardrobe, which was both anachronistic in terms of ritual and in line with the propagandist ideas of the 1930s.

A royal wardrobe

The Crown Prince gave his wife evening dresses and court coats of unprecedented luxury, hand-embroidered by Italian haute-couture houses. Comely and slim, she became an icon of female elegance in the 1930s.

Glamour and politics

This exhibition evokes the glamorous world of those years, placing it in a time when appearance was a facet of political strategy. Unpublished photographs and archive documentation help to illustrate the complexities of that period and the course that the turbulent life of this princess took during it. At the age of forty, she found herself obliged to leave the country and go into exile.

The exhibition owes its realization to the Umberto II and Marie-José of Savoy Foundation. It is sponsored by the Marie-José National Foundation and is under the Gracious patronage of Queen Paola.