The King

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I am not sure how to introduce this post. One of my fashion passions is historical fashion. I love find where trends come from and how history, politics and other factors shape fashion, and thus the birth of this post (FYI, I am not talking about Elvis. This king is a non-singer who did not wear gold pants).

This last year, I took a class where I was asked to write a detailed research paper on something relating to France, women and fashion. I picked Paul Poiret, a remarkable and fascinating fashion designer whom you have probably never heard of. Not surprising. Paul Poiret was a famous fashion designer before WWI. He was terrifically talented and designed amazing things like this:

(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

And these.

(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

(Les Robes de Paul Poiret)

Poiret began his career by working in several very successful couture houses (Worth & Doucet), but because he was rather high and mighty, and didn't get along too well with the owners of the couture houses and ventured off on his own (He had flamboyant taste that didn't mesh well with either of the houses aesthetic).
He was a man willing to try almost anything. In an age where corsets and bustles were in vogue, he designed loose Persian-looking clothing. He almost single-handedly (with one or two other designers of his time) phased out the corset, an undergarment that had been a staple in the woman's wardrobe for the past 400+ years.
He had real dramatic flair and a great deal of his designs came from a performance by the Ballet Russe. Unfortunately he had a tough time adapting to the conservative fashion right after the war and his house went bankrupt in 1929. His brilliance remains, however in some costume museums and his ridiculously pompous autobiography "The King of Fashion" (by the way, he picked this name out himself).

Next time you are planning on wearing something boring to a party, think of Paul Poiret, and go for something flashy.

(Vogue Fashion shoot inspired by Paul Poiret)


  1. You better show up in something that flashy at the baby shower tomorrow night!

  2. Haha! I love this! I remember when you were writing this paper. I want to officially thank Poiret for fazing out the corset.


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