Mademoiselle Arlette clothing was designed by Arlette Nastat, co-owner of and designer for Réal, a high-end Paris boutique. Réal opened on Paris’s rue Saint Honoré in 1957, and, much like Mary Quant’s London shop Bazaar, the styles were designed for young women who had difficulty finding clothing that appealed to their tastes. Nastat was a mere nineteen years old when Réal opened, and the boutique soon boasted an impressive celebrity clientele that included Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Denueve, and Sylvie Vartan. Thanks to its association with French pop singers, Réal also became known as the quintessential yé-yé boutique. Réal’s importance was such that its fashions were featured in the pages of Elle
alongside couture creations by venerable labels such as Cardin, Courrèges, Dior, and Lanvin.
Several designs from Réal, including styles worn by Vartan, were also produced in the United States. There, they were adapted and marketed by the Seventh Avenue businessman Andrew Arkin, and sold under the name Mademoiselle Arlette. Fashion journalists praised the Mademoiselle Arlette designs for offering the yé-yé look to an American audience. The brand was featured regularly in Mademoiselle magazine, which was known for featuring the latest French-designed ready-to-wear.
Mademoiselle Arlette dress
This Mademoiselle Arlette dress was recently acquired by The Museum at FIT for inclusion in Paris Refashioned, and it exemplifies the label’s vibrant, girlish aesthetic. It is narrowly cut, with dimensions only scarcely wider through the hips than through the bust. This markedly underscores the slender, youthful body type for which it was intended.
Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968
runs through April 15, 2017 at The Museum at FIT