Ema and fashion in the 20th century

The clothes and the calligraphy of gestures. Curated by Brunno Almeida Maia

The Ema Klabin House Museum


Ema and Eva Klabin (1908)The Ema Klabin House Museum


Born in 1907, Ema lived in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, during World War I, only returning to Brazil at the end of 1919.

With Eva Klabin and friends at carnival in 1920s (1920)The Ema Klabin House Museum


Over the course of this decade, Ema and her sisters continued their studies in Berlin and Bern, accompanied by all the cultural effervescence of the Roaring Twenties, marked by the introduction of jazz and African art, the strides made in cinematography and cruise ships.

With her dad in Rapallo, Italy (1930)The Ema Klabin House Museum


After finishing her studies, Ema began accompanying her father on his travels. They stayed at luxury hotels at Alpine lakes, Paris, the French Riviera and northern Italy.

Sailing trip on Lake Geneva, Switzerland (1933)The Ema Klabin House Museum

Ema, Luba Klabin and Jenny Klabin Segall (1948)The Ema Klabin House Museum


Beginning in 1948, Ema starts travelling internationally again, acquiring clothes at luxury stores in New York’s fifth avenue and the haute couture houses of Paris. She also embarks on her journey as a collector of art and antiquities.

Athens, Greece (1954)The Ema Klabin House Museum


Marked by the designs and construction of her new house, her involvement with the founding of the Albert Einstein Hospital and her participation in the main cultural institutions of São Paulo. Over this decade, Ema also went on several cruises around the world.

Unboarding in Gibraltar (1961)The Ema Klabin House Museum


With the inauguration of her new house, Ema becomes one of the cities most important hostesses, developing her own style for which she becomes famous: the white streak in her hair, eye-catching jewellery, vibrant colors and prints and the frequent use of fur coats and stoles.

Albert Einstein Israeli Hospital EventThe Ema Klabin House Museum


In 1970, Ema finishes construction of her house in the city of Campos do Jordão, where she contributes to the creation of the Winter Festival.

Ema at reception of Octavio Paz (1985)The Ema Klabin House Museum


No longer able to travel as much as she used to, Ema continues to maintain her elegance and style, often using dresses created in partnership with the skillful seamstresses who worked for the elite of São Paulo.

Paris restaurant (1980)The Ema Klabin House Museum

Ema Klabin by Gregory WarchavchikThe Ema Klabin House Museum


Greatly shaken by the death of her sister, Eva, in 1991, Ema passes away at home, on January 27th, 1994, two days after her 87th birthday.

Ema Klabin in front of the garden facade in Portugal street house, 1958/1958, From the collection of: The Ema Klabin House Museum
Shopping in downtown São Paulo, 1928, From the collection of: The Ema Klabin House Museum
Biblos, Greece, From the collection of: The Ema Klabin House Museum
Tour with Luba Klabin in Villa D'Este, Tivoli, 1949, From the collection of: The Ema Klabin House Museum
Eva Klabin's 80th birthday, From the collection of: The Ema Klabin House Museum
Ema Klabin, From the collection of: The Ema Klabin House Museum
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Credits: Story

See the Curatorial Axes of the exposition.

More information on The Ema Klabin House Museum site.

Casa Museu Ema Klabin
Texprima e Texprima LOF
Secretaria de Cultura e Economia Criativa - Governo do Estado de São Paulo

overall coordination

Paulo de Freitas Costa
curation and research
Brunno Almeida Maia
curation and research assistant
Theo Monteiro
photographic record of the pieces
Isabella Matheus e Luciana Cury
Julio Moraes Conservação e Restauro
Manequins Moulage
text revision
Ana Martini
Henrik Carbonnier 

Casa Museu Eva Klabin
Dior Heritage
Guilherme Liggeri
Luisa Curvello 
Gabriela Pessoa
Getty Images
José Gayegos
L´Officiel Brasil
Ricardo Kowarick
Manon Salles
Monayna Pinheiro
Museu de Arte de São Paulo – MASP
Hanayrá Negreiros
Priscila Monteiro
Société René Gruau
Gregory Klein
Vogue Brasil 
Marcia Caetano

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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