Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fashion History Lesson: Paul Poiret

Paul Poiret Advocate Against Corsets - French Couturier

French couturiers never fail to interest me. Have you ever wondered about the true origination of the Pencil Skirt? Well, actually that started back with Christian Dior in the late 1940's. How about we take it back to the early 1900's pre-pencil skirt and talk about Paul Poiret. Who is he? Inventor of the hobble skirt and advocate against the top restricting corset. 

"I freed the bust and I shackled the legs"
-Paul Poiret

Through his life designing Poiret found himself serving at the House of  Worth creating simply practical pieces to accompany the main garments designed by Gaston Worth. (Gaston Worth is the son of Charles Frederick Worth - Read:  Misuse of the Term "Haute Couture" and the Real Meaning).  Paul Poiret's  designs at the house of Worth were too much of a "horror". An actual term used by the Russian princess Bariatinsky when her eyes met with a Kimono like cloak designed by the couturier. Her extreme disturbance by the wool piece  charged up the princess's  nerves as she stated that a beheading was in order. The freshly cut heads were to be disposed of in the garment Paul Poiret fashioned. Time spent at the House of Worth had been a crucial stint that lead Poiret into starting his very own atelier. 

His inspirations stemmed from a combination of Orientalist and Neo-Classical styles while shunning modernism. Through his actions a new type of modern came about during his time as an independent couturier. Paul Poiret modernized society by changing the female silhouette. Say goodbye s-shape and hello to something more tubular. Slim down the bottom and let the top breath.  His introduction of the hobble skirt revolutionized modern fashion. Poiret was also heavily involved in reviving the Empire Style which came from the second phase of neoclassicism. How cute is the Empire waist? Freedom of the abdomen is a wonderful thing. Harem pants, a design adapted by Poiret made headlines, but were not  by the average woman.

Paul Poiret's shop included more then just clothing. The incorporation of furniture, decor and fragrance opened up a whole new world for the typical fashion house. He established two companies for two daughters Martine and Rosine. Martine was divided into three sections, École Martine, Atelier Martine, and La Maison Martine. École Martine was a design school opened to create a pathway for underprivileged girls to embrace the decorative arts. Many of the pieces created by the students are considered collectible. Parfums de Rosine was a fragrance and cosmetics company. 
Paul Poiret held popularity as a pioneer in women's fashion history  until going bankrupt through the mid-late 1920's. His design house closed down. Parfums de Rosine had a re-birth in 1991 under perfumer Marie-Hélène Rogeon. Original formulas for Parfums de Rosine do not exist. The signature scent initially created by Poiret was reinvented by Rogeon. 

That's enough information for now. 

If you are interested in learning more, I suggest checking out

Till another Fashion History Lesson! 

Peace and Love, 
Amber Sweet 

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