close up of rainbow colored ruffles

20 Dresses from Véronique Peck Enter the DAM's Fashion Collection

In conjunction with Paris to Hollywood: The Fashion and Influence of Véronique and Gregory Peck, their daughter, Cecilia Peck Voll, has given to the Denver Art Museum 20 haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles that belonged to her mother (four examples appear below).

Born in Paris, France, in 1932, Véronique Passani was a writer for the daily French newspaper France Soir and Paris-Presse when she met Gregory Peck at the age of 20. Véronique reviewed books, theater, performances, and exhibitions, and interviewed high-profile celebrities, including General Eisenhower, Samuel Goldwyn, Albert Schweitzer, and the French writer Colette. Gregory Peck was filming Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn in Italy when he interviewed with Véronique for France Soir in Paris. The meeting was the beginning of a love story culminating in a marriage that lasted until Gregory’s death in 2003.Véronique’s close relationships with designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, and André Courrèges made her an ambassador between the couturiers of Europe and the Hollywood elite. Dating from the 1950s to the 1980s, these 20 pieces include examples of great masters such as Valentino, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Moschino, Guy Laroche, Jacques Griffe, Jean Louis Scherrer, Rudi Gernreich, Moschino, as well as André Courrèges, Cristobal Balenciaga, and Pierre Cardin.

Yves Saint Laurent is represented with pieces that belonged to his most famous collections, the “Opéras-Ballets russes” Haute Couture Fall 1976 collection, inspired by Serge de Diaghilev and the opera house in Paris (pictured above left), and the “Les Chinoises” Fall 1977 collection, inspired by Imperial China.

While there is currently only one André Courrèges look in the DAM collection, the gift of three looks of this French couturier includes one minidress and one mini coat that illustrate how he started a revolution by freeing the body of the women with geometric forms and short skirts. A Balenciaga daywear ensemble, which is similar to a piece that belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a good example of the mastery of the cut.

Two spectacular evening gowns by Guy Laroche (pictured below) demonstrate the importance of haute couture design for gala events in Hollywood. A pink coat dress by Pierre Cardin from the Winter 1961–62 collection is very emblematic of his style with its triangular front panel cut. This cut anticipates the radical geometric style that would make Cardin a leading promoter of the space-age look after 1965.

These 20 pieces were chosen with the goal of including examples of great masters that are not currently present or are underrepresented in the DAM collection. This gift reveals Véronique Peck’s talent for choosing the best designer pieces, emblematic of each season. It brings a more complete vision of the history of fashion after World War II through a woman who was on the front line of fashion trends and design.