Fashion, Jade, Chocolates & André Marty for La Gazette Du Bon Ton

Andre Marty from Vogue 61.1. "Features: Our French Artists in Paris", January 1, 1923. P. 81.

Portrait of Andre Marty from Vogue 61.1. “Features: Our French Artists in Paris”, January 1, 1923. P. 81.

The following are four imaginary letters exchanged between artist André-Édouard Marty and his mother during the early part of Marty’s career as an illustrator. The first two letters communicate some of the influences and connections that shaped Marty’s style and gave him a start in his artistic career, while the second two focus on one particular advertisement he illustrated for La Gazette du Bon Ton. The exchanges demonstrate a few concepts we have discussed throughout the semester such as Bourdieu’s social and cultural capital as a means to economic capital (1986); Simmel’s use of fashion for differentiation and socialization (1904); Veblen’s concept of conspicuous consumption as a way to attain greater status (1899); and Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT) as a way of understanding the interconnectivity and interdependence of various factors (or “actors”—human or otherwise) within an industry (Entwistle in Rocamora, 2016).

As you read the imagined letters, consider the above theories and how they could be exemplified through Marty’s experiences.


10 August 1912

Dearest Mother,

I must apologize for the delay in my response to your past letter. I have been quite occupied with work for Comoedia Illustré, both writing critiques of the sensational performances by our beloved Ballets Russes, and providing illustrations for the same, as well as offering illustrations and advice about various other arts events in Paris (Ballets Russes 26-7).

I must also share some wonderful news! You know Maurice de Brunhoff, the editor-in-chief of Comoedia Illustré? Well, his son-in-law, Lucien Vogel, is starting a new journal that will feature art, theatre, written pieces and most of all fashion—a publication that places fashion on an even ground with the fine arts (Ballets Russes 53). Lucien has seen my illustrations in Comoedia Illustré and has asked me to be part of his team of illustrators for his new “Gazette du Bon Ton”, as he calls it. Of course, I agreed! How could I not? This offer will afford me the opportunity to work in close proximity with Monsieur Poiret—whom I have met on a number of occasions at Ballets Russes performances. As you know, Poiret is good friends with the director of the Ballets, Monsieur Diaghilev, and has produced lines most certainly inspired by the lavish and exotic costumes of the Ballets (Alford & Stegemeyer 301; Geczy 143). Mother, the designs are other-worldly!

A dinner dress designed by Poiret and illustrated by Georges Lepape, published in the first issue of Gazette du Bon Ton. Note the similarities between this dress and the one illustrated by Marty in his chocolate advertisement below.

Image 1. A dinner dress designed by Poiret and illustrated by Georges Lepape, published in the first issue of Gazette du Bon Ton. Note the similarities between this dress and the one illustrated in Image 5. Photo: Pinterest

Not only will I be honoured to illustrate Poiret’s designs, but my co-worker, Léon Bakst, has also been recruited to work on Lucien’s new publication (Ballets Russes 54), along with a number of fellow graduates from L’École des Beaux Arts—all brilliant artists, fun chaps. AND we will have the privilege of illustrating designs by such well-respected names as Cheruit, Doeuillet, Doucet, Paquin, Redfern and Worth (Gazette).

Mother, I am truly honoured and feel that we are on the cusp of something momentous. I think the world of fashion is ready to break away for good from stiff corseted modes of the past and embrace the exotic, mysterious and luxurious aesthetic that has been percolating in Paris since the Ballets Russes burst on the scene a few years ago (Ballets Russes 36).

My work for Lucien will begin in about a month, as he aims to publish the first issue in November. Perhaps you, Father, and I could get away for a trip to the beach before I begin this new venture, and before the summer has slipped away.

I hope you are well and look forward to hearing from you again, soon.

Yours always,




1 September 1912

My dear André,

Your father and I are indeed well, thank you. Father is Paris today, making arrangements with some colleagues for an upcoming performance by Stravinsky at the Salle Pleyel, and I have been planning with for a dinner we are hosting next week.

How wonderful to hear about your upcoming opportunities! And, oh, how I love Paquin’s romantic evening gowns, Redfern’s Grecian style, and the lavish dresses designed by Worth (Alford & Stegemeyer 287, 316, 408)! You must have me added to the subscription list for Gazette du Bon Ton, would you, son? How pleased I am that you have made such connections—to offer your talents in circles of those with such esteem. (I suppose you are already aware of Redfern’s service to Queen Victoria, as her royal dressmaker. Paquin has also served the queens of Belgium, Portugal and Spain, and Worth was court dressmaker for our own Empress Eugénie, and Austria’s Empress Elizabeth) (Alford & Stegemeyer 287, 316, 407).

I have always known you have a special gift. Even as a child, you saw more than I could see. Your childish scribblings contained such whimsy and insight. I hope, as you embark on this new phase of your young career, that you maintain your charming innocence and vibrant wit. As you always have, maintain your integrity, son, and keep your individual voice strong and clear, even as you serve those above you.

You are still the treasure of my heart and I so look forward to a time at the beach with you and father before the warm weather flies away.

Don’t be too long in writing back so we can make arrangements.



Andre Marty's pochoir plate for the first issue of Gazette du Bon Ton, November 1912. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum Library.

Image 2. Andre Marty’s pochoir plate for the first issue of Gazette du Bon Ton, November 1912. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum Library and Archives. Photo: Pam Johnston


About one year later, Marty would have been working on the image I selected for study—an advertisement for chocolates from La Marquise de Sévigné. See Image 5.


5 November 1913

Dearest Mother,

Thank you for your most recent letter. You asked what I have been occupied with lately. The Christmas issue of Gazette du Bon Ton goes to print next week and, aside from working on numerous theatre posters and Comoedia Illustré critiques for the holiday season, I have nearly finished all my drawings for the Gazette. For the upcoming issue, I illustrated a Christmas legend about the Pope giving a young princess a golden rose. I also had some laughs while working on my pochoir plate. I was assigned to illustrate a beautiful tiered pink taffeta tango dress trimmed with lace and silver bows (see Image 3). In keeping with our holiday theme, I imagined this exquisitely dressed young woman attending a Christmas party, and finding herself accidentally beneath the mistletoe. Two nitwits (thus my title“Les Deux Nigauds”) approach her for a kiss at the same time!! What a dilemma!

Image 3. Andre Marty's "Les Deux Nigauds" from La Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Image 3. Andre Marty’s “Les Deux Nigauds” from La Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum and Archives. Photo: Pam Johnston

I am nearly finished my drawing for an advertisement for chocolat de royat from La Marquise de Sévigné. For the sake of time, it will be reproduced mechanically using the halftone technique. I love the control and hand-brushed artistry permitted by pochoir, but in order to keep advertisements profitable, it is only sensible to spend less time on them by printing with a few colours in reprographic technique (“Reprography”). I am still working on the concept, but have been reminiscing about our old neighbor, Marie, and her daughters and son: She used to invite us over each Christmas Eve for a feast, and she would always give us children a candy just as we were about to leave for midnight mass. It is such a sweet memory—good inspiration for a little vignette about Christmas chocolate, I think.

Oh, Mother, you will also enjoy some of the illustrations by my colleagues. The pochoir by Fabius will provide a hint about the Christmas gift I have reserved for you and Father…

Well, I must get back to work. I am sending along a box of chocolates from La Marquise de Sévigné for you and Father, and I am sure your Noël 1913-Janvier 1914 issue of Gazette will arrive home for the holidays before I do.

Until then,



7 December 1913

My André,

Thank you for the chocolates you sent for Father and I—they were the most delectable I have ever tasted! Also, the Christmas issue of La Gazette du Bon Ton arrived just yesterday, and I was thrilled to see the fruit of your work. Your Christmas gift hint made me curious, so, I immediately searched through to find Fabius’ rendering of the Sophonisbe costume…I am guessing you have bought tickets to the opera for your father and I…and I hope I have not got my hopes up falsely (“Sophonisba”)! Fabius’ rendering has a particular resemblance to the Salomé images that swept Europe not too many years ago (Schweitzer 36)—don’t you think, dear? Dripping with beads and pearls, and sheer fabrics—it seems so exotic, so oriental, so different from the fashions of my youth, and yet, the style is becoming more and more familiar—so much so that soon we will wonder if there was a time it was not so.

Image 4. Pochoir plate by Fabius called "Sophisbe" of a costume by Poiret. From La Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Image 4. Pochoir plate by Fabius called “Sophisbe” of a costume by Poiret. From La Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum Library and Archives. Photo: Pam Johnston.

I think you have been swept up by the Oriental craze, too, my son. There’s no avoiding it, if you want to be fashionable—and you must be. Consider your chocolate ad: The “Marie” in your vignette, does not look like the traditional Marie you grew up with, though she is charming and sweet like real Marie. Yours is a modern woman with her Poiret-like kimono jacket and hobble-shaped skirt draped over a long pleated underskirt (see Image 1). Though our neighbour Marie was distinguished by fashionability in her day, your illustrated Marie must necessarily be distinguished from the unfashionable today by her fashionable oriental style clothing, and her jade elephant candy dish with its popular association with the mysterious and regal China (“Jade”). And yet, you have kept some of our traditional aesthetics intact by including an Art Nouveau-style table and dressing the little toddler in a long white dress rather than in the new romper suits I have seen some of my friends’ grandchildren in (Rose 109). While there is a subtle movement away from the past in the children’s clothing, there is a clear split expressed by the woman’s (Rose 126).

Image 5. Andre Marty's advertisement for chocolates from La Marquise de Sevigne, called "L'Elephant de Jade", from La Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Image 5. Andre Marty’s advertisement “L’Elephant de Jade”, from La Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum  Library and Archives. Photo: Pam Johnston.


Spread of ads from Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914, including details about La Marquise de Sevigne.

Spread of ads from Gazette du Bon Ton, Noel 1913-Janvier 1914, including details about La Marquise de Sevigné. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum Library and Archives. Photo: Pam Johnston

My son, I think you have done well to capture the pleasure of tradition and a heartwarming memory so precious at Christmastime, as well as the forward momentum of the fashions of our present day.

Well, I am sure you have thought enough about that work, and soon it is time for you to return home for the holidays. We anticipate seeing you face to face.

With love and affection,




There are a number of theories that could find application within the above scenarios. For example, Simmel’s concepts of conspicuous consumption as a way to gain esteem in the sight of others could be what motivated Marty to depict a valuable (and Oriental) jade dish within which chocolates were stored, as well as the woman’s Poiret-like garments, which would have denoted rarity and distinction. Simmel’s ideas about fashion tending to manifest two social motivations—differentiation and socialization—also have application here. One could argue that Marty’s characters were attempting to differentiate themselves from individuals of lower economic status by consuming chocolate, storing it in a jade container, and wearing high-end orient-inspired designs (all decisions that might not be available to those with less economic means). At the same time they could use those very objects to associate themselves with those of sufficient economic means and desirable social class.

Even more than Simmel’s ideas, Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital, social capital, and habitus are exemplified through my imagined interactions between Marty and his mother. Here we can see that his upbringing, the place of his birth, the way he was reared, his parents’ occupations, his education, and his experiences (which all make up his habitus, and cultural capital), as well as the networks of friends and associates he built up over years of education and living in Paris (social capital) directly affected his career opportunities. As I said above, these are imagined interactions, and I did not find any information about Marty’s family aside from the fact that Marty had a “quiet” and “pampered” childhood (Garnier). Thus, it is difficult to deduce how much his family and upbringing shaped his career, but if Bourdieu’s theories are true, we could guess at the type of life Marty and his parents might have lived. The seemingly tight-knit community of artists and performers in Paris, and Marty’s inclusion in it definitely, opened doors for him.

One other theory that has some application to the particular work under consideration is Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT), which claims that human and non-human actors in a system (of art or fashion production, for example), affect what is actually produced and how it is valued. In the case of this advertisement, there are many actors at play, including the editor, the company requesting the ad, the artist, the consumers of the publication, other cultural events and influences in the region, and the printing technology available and appropriate for this particular purpose, to name a few. Without any of these actors, the ad would have been different.


Discussion questions:

In what ways would Veblen’s notion of conspicuous consumption affect the way you read the ad illustrated by Marty?

What does the title of the ad “L’Éléphant de Jade” tell us about what Marty intentions for this ad?


Works Consulted

Alford, Holly Price and Anne Stegemeyer. Who’s Who in Fashion. 5th ed. New York: Fairchild Books, 2010. Print.

Bayer, Patricia. Art Deco Source Book. Oxford: Phaidon Press Ltd, 1988. Print.

Benton, Charlotte, Tim Benton and Ghislaine Wood, Eds. Art Deco: 1910-1939. London: V&A Publications, 2003. Print.

Callen, Georgina O’Hara. The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers. 2nd ed. Updated by Cat Glover. London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2008. Print.

Davis, Mary E. Ballets Russes Style: Diaghilev’s Dancers and Paris Fashion. London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2010. Print.

                        “La Gazette du Bon Ton”. Classic Chic: Music, Fashion and Modernism. Oakland: University of California Press, 2008. 48-92. Web.

Entwistle, Joanne. “Bruno Latour: Actor-Network-Theory and Fashion”. Thinking Through Fashion: A Guide to Key Theorists. Eds. Rocamora, Agnès and Anneke Smelik. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 2016. 269-284. Print.

French Fashion Plates in Full Colour from the Gazette du Bon Ton (1912-1925): 58 Illustrations of Styles by Paul Poiret, Worth, Paquin and Others. New York: Dover Publishers, 1979. Print.

Fiell, Charlotte & Peter, Eds. Decorative Art 1900s 1910s. Köln: Taschen, 2000. Print.

Garnier, Guillaume. “Marty André Édouard (1882-1974)”. Encyclopaedia Universalis. (English translation). Web. 14 April 2016.

Gazette du Bon Ton. Dec 1913-Jan 1914.

Geczy, Adam. Fashion and Orientalism: Dress Textiles and Culture from the 17th to the 21st Century. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Print.

“Jade”. International Colored Gemstone Association: all about colored gemstones. 2016. Web. 18 April 2016.

Martin, Linda. The Way We Wore: Fashion Illustrations of Children’s Wear 1870-1970. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978. Print.

Pilgrim, Linda Kathryn. La Gazette du Bon Ton: Arts, Modes, and Frivolités: An Analysis of Fashion and Modernity through the Lens of a French Journal de Luxe. Diss. University of Southern California, 1999. Web. 12 April 2016.

“Reprography”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2015. Web. 18 April 2016.

Schweitzer, Marlis. “’Nothing but a string of beads’: Maud Allan’s Salomé Costume as a ‘choreographic thing’”. Performing Objects and Theatrical Things. Eds. Marlis Schweitzer and Joanne Zerdy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 36-48.

“Sophonisba”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2016. Web. 18 April 2016.




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