Saturday, September 23, 2006
Paul Poiret is one of the earliest designers of the dress style for the modern "new woman": a slender style that loosely fit the body (the "Nouvelle Vague") which liberated women from the corset and allowed for greater freedom of movement. He was inspried by the stylings of ancient Greece as well as the Empire gown which elongated the torso and he was particularly fond of headscarves and turbans.
Poiret is also noted for a number of style innovations. His orientalist fashions can be seen in the kimono gowns (see above, the blue gown in the middle) and turkish robes and other styles that wrapped the body and hung losely in soft folds. He introduced harem pants which became all the rage when the Ballet Russe came to Paris.
His least appealing design is the hobble skirt, which was tight around the ankles. Why someone who promoted the idea of creating fashion that gave women more freedom created something as silly as the hobble skirt is something of a mystery.
However, he later modified the design so that the skirt was split in the middle, with a gathered folds cascading down the middle.
His lampshade dress was another radical transformation in the architecture of women's fashion. It was also an item that worked well with his harem pants and modified (i.e. no longer hobbling) hobble skirt.
During this period fashion illustration became an art form in its own right and Poiret's work was enhanced by the work of Paul Iribe and Georges Lepape and others who produced beautiful images that captured not just the clothing but a particular way of life -- full of romance, leisure, langor, and style.
Orientalism and Fashion
Art Deco fashion illustration
Fox Rare Books : fashion illustration
Gazette du Bon Ton fashions at victoriana.com