All photographs courtesy of Fragonard.
Much like its hometown of Grasse and founder Hélène Costa, the Provençal Museum of Costume and Jewelry is immersed in the fervor of Provençal culture. To this day, the museum is created and curated by the Costa family, the founders of the Fragonard Group. Residing within a resplendent mansion, once the distinguished abode of the Marquise de Cabris, sister of Mirabeau, the museum is steeped in historical significance inside and out. Walk through the doors and you’ll step into a bygone era where nobility and craftsmanship reign.
A Little History
Fueled by an unquenchable passion, the museum’s founder Hélène Costa, made it her life’s work to collect and preserve traditional Provençal costumes and jewelry. Together with her husband, she amassed a remarkable assortment, showcasing the quintessential patterns, designs, and fabrics for which her cherished region is famed. In 1997, this exquisite collection materialized into the Provençal Museum of Costume and Jewelry, a testament to Hélène’s ardor for preserving the legacy of Provençal heritage.
Inside the Museum
Today, the museum showcases an unparalleled collection of attire and adornments, spanning from the 18th to the late 19th century. Visitors are greeted with the opportunity to meander through intimate lounges, each emanating from a magnificent central staircase. As one explores the exhibition, the ambiance exudes an air of refined elegance. The rooms, painted in subtle shades of gray and ochre, feature shuttered windows, bathing the space with ambient light and slivers of sunshine.
The exhibition boasts an eye-catching array of skirts, caracos, corsets, châtelaines, crosses, earrings, and much more. Each display is also thoughtfully illuminated, highlighting the ornately dressed mannequins ensconced within their glass domes to facilitate detailed observation.
The dresses, fashioned from embroidered and printed fabrics, crafted with silk and cotton, are a sight to behold. While their intricate patterns and delicate textures beckon admiration, it is not only the garments themselves that captivate the viewer, but the evolving styles and fashion trends on display: a captivating journey not only into the evolution of fashion and cultural expression but also the social and economic influences that shaped clothing styles.
Although the museum comprises merely four intimate rooms, it exudes undeniable charm, and with free admission, there is truly no reason to resist spending a short moment enjoying this little gem.
The Museum is open every day from 10-1pm and 2-6pm. No reservation needed.
Provençal Museum of Costume and Jewelry
Centre ville de Grasse
2 rue Jean Ossola