The Stylish Gowns of Madame Olympe

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NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA– The Historic New Orleans Collection presents history like no other. During the coronavirus pandemic, they tours, but with a twist. From the comfort of your own home they have an wide array of virtual tours through history. Lydia Blackmore is the Decorative Arts Curator and also behind the virtual tour entitled, Goods of Every Description: Shopping in New Orleans. Part of her exhibit features a story about an early 19th century businesswoman.

Madame Olympe Boisse was the most fashionable dressmaker in 19th century New Orleans. All the leading ladies sought her skills for gowns in the latest styles and the local newspapers often reported on her creations down to the ribbon trimmings.

Olympe Boisse opened her fashionable millinery and dressmaking shop on Chartres Street in 1851. She moved to Canal Street in 1864 and remained in business there for two decades. Madame Olympe was the best modiste in the city, offering gowns, bonnets, wraps, and artificial flowers of the highest quality and clothing in the latest styles. At the end of each summer, she traveled to Paris, returning in the fall with dresses, fabrics, and accessories in the current fashions. She is known as one of the first Americans to apply her own label to the clothing.

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