|whoops, sorry--not PoirOT! PoirET!|
|yep, that's the one....|
|a Poiret "confucius" coat|
|via the Met|
The Poiret house, started in Paris in 1903, went on to heavily influence popular fashions of the 1910s and 1920s. Poiret pioneered draping as a technique for design and construction, and heavily used rectangles as the base shapes for his designs--a huge departure from the accentuated curves and detailed fit of the 1900s. Along with other lead designers of the time (include Madeleine Vionnet, who invented bias cut dresses and protected the idea with a copyright), Poiret's flowy dresses moved away from the fitted gowns of decades past, and therefore were not tied closely to undergarments (thereby not requiring a corset). This was a monumental change, and these high fashion ensembles are a dramatic departure from previous silhouettes.
|Poiret, Spring 1913 (via Vintage Textile)|
Poiret was particularly interested in drawing from the aesthetics of non-western cultures, primarily French colonies and/or countries beginning to trade with France, including North Africa, Japan, and the Middle East, as well as antiquity, such as the draped chitons of ancient Greece. The influence of these regions on Poiret's designs can be seen everywhere from wide headbands and turbans to wide "kimono" sleeves and the use of brocades.
|dress and embroidered vest by Poiret (via)|
|brocade gown with wide sleeves by Poiret, 1922 (the Met)|
While Poiret is famous for his Asian and Middle Eastern inspired designs, aesthetics from these regions became incredible popular during the 1910s in fashion and the arts. In June 1910 the Ballet Russes premiered Scheherazade, based on "1001 Nights," which was a smashing success. Inspired by a collection of Persian minitures, the costumes designed by Leon Bakst fueled the fire of Poiret's high fashion designs.
|Vera Fokina and Mikhail Fokine in Scheherazade, 1910|
With the success of Scheherazade, Poiret launched his Orientalist designs in full--including the "jupe-pantalon" (skirt-trouser) for women, which was considered incredibly scandalous both for introducing pants into couture womenswear and the sexualized references Poiret made with the styles, which he called "harem" pants/skirts (both seem to be used interchangeably?). While I'm fairly uncomfortable with the term "harem pants" for its racist undertones (or not-so-undertones), the introduction of female fashions with two legs (no matter how baggy and skirt-like) is important because it aligns with several other movements towards more equality for women: the decline of the corset, the women's suffrage movement, and women's involvement in WWI. For this reason, I'm feeling particularly drawn to jupe-pantalon styles at the moment. It was exactly what the anti-suffrage movement was afraid of--women wearing pants! (and yet, the earth didn't explode...funny, that.)
|c.20s, with a very "deco" pattern|
|Belgian postcard, 1913|
|evening ensemble, 1914|
Also, Sybil shows up to dinner in a "jupe culotte" ensemble in season 1 of Downton Abbey. Who doesn't want to dress like Sybil?