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New book tells how museum became one of the most important repositories of Coco Chanel's memorabilia
Dallas Museum of Art publishes From Chanel to Reves: La Pausa and Its Collections at the Dallas Museum of Art

DALLAS, TX.- From Chanel to Reves: La Pausa and Its Collections at the Dallas Museum of Art is the first publication to explore the history of Wendy and Emery Reves’ French Riviera home, Villa La Pausa. The book’s publication coincides with the Collection’s 30th anniversary at the DMA and is available for purchase exclusively at the DMA Store. From Chanel to Reves: La Pausa and Its Collections at the Dallas Museum of Art is written by the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Senior Curator of European and American Art, and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, Olivier Meslay, with Martha MacLeod, MA Art History, Senior Curatorial Administrator. In their book, they reveal how the Museum became one of the most important repositories in the world of Coco Chanel’s memorabilia. In addition, they explore the history of key works of art from the more than 1,400 objects in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, which includes magnificent impressionist and post-impressionist paintings and sculpture. The Museum houses the Reves collection in a partial re-creation of the villa on its 3rd level.

“This book will cast new light on the objects that comprise the collection while allowing us to consider with fresh eyes the house and décor that surrounded them,” stated Meslay. “It is amazing to discover that Chanel has such a strong presence in Dallas and at the DMA.”

Wendy and Emery Reves purchased the Villa La Pausa in 1953 from the fashion icon Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, and retained the majority of furnishings, souvenirs, and books owned by the acclaimed fashion designer. The Mediterranean villa was originally built in 1927 by Chanel, who directed the design of it with the architect Robert Streitz to reflect aspects of the Aubazine convent in the Corrèze region of central France where she lived as an orphan in her early life. Throughout her time at La Pausa, she decorated and remodeled the home with austere furniture, with the majority of the 16th- and 17th-century pieces most likely coming from the Duke of Westminster’s collection. The Duke was a longtime companion of Chanel’s and spent many years with her at La Pausa.

Along with the furnishings, most of which was collected or commissioned by Chanel, Wendy and Emery Reves acquired Chanel’s personal library, which included numerous novels by contemporary writers of the time and some first editions by her friends, among them Jean Cocteau. A recent discovery from the La Pausa library is a bookplate of Paul Iribe, the famous French fashion illustrator and interior designer, on the last page of Spinoza’s Ethique. Iribe died in 1935 while visiting Chanel at the Mediterranean villa. An installation of the book and bookplate is on view at the DMA in the Emery and Wendy Reves Collection galleries.

In 1985, the Museum received the private art collection of Emery Reves—including impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, and decorative arts objects—donated by the Wendy & Emery Reves Foundation, Inc. on behalf of Wendy’s late husband, Emery. With this gift, the Museum’s collections of late 19th- and early 20th-century European art and European decorative art were transformed. From Chanel to Reves highlights areas of the impressive holdings collected by Wendy and Emery, including perhaps lesser known items such as the large collection of frames; the finest work ever painted by Honoré Daumier, Head of Pasquin; and one of the most remarkable collections of textiles and rugs of its kind, including a number of Spanish Renaissance rugs equaled only by one or two private Spanish collections and that of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Olivier Meslay will lead a gallery talk on Wednesday, December 9, at 12:15 p.m. in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection galleries. The tour will highlight findings presented in the publication and is included in the Museum’s free general admission.

The color-illustrated 66-page book is published by the Dallas Museum of Art ($15, paperback). It is available for purchase in the DMA Store or online at

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