Paul Poiret ~ 1879-1944
Biography of Paul Poiret fashion designer
Paul Poiret was born in Paris in April 1879 and became a legendary French Couturier. He took twelve designs to Mme. Cheruit, and also to the house of Raudnitz et Cie They bought them all and soon he was selling his sketches to the house of Doucet, Worth, Redfern and Rouff. His first employment was in 1898 with the famous Fashion House of Jacques Doucet (1897-1900), as a junior assistant, and then with Worth. Here he was set to work with designing for Sarah Bernhart and Rejane.
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1900 – Paris. He was employed at the house of Worth and did not continue for long, as on the 1st September 1904 he opened his own establishment at 5 Rue Auber. This was financed by his mother.
1905 – He married Denise and she became his source of inspiration. Experimenting with the design of the empire style, which suited her slender frame and Slavic features. They had two daughters Rosine and Martine.
Between 1904 & 1924 ~ he irrevocably changed the feminine form with his new fashion designs by dismissing the use of corsets and eliminating layered petticoats. He introduced the first modern straight lined dress the beginning of his extraordinary success in the field of Fashion inspiration.
Paul Poiret was a significant exponent of Art Deco commissioning many well-known Artists of the time who illustrated his designs. It is also known that he worked with the Artist Raoul Dufy.
This Design by Paul Poiret was in an advertisement for Costume Tailleur in the Journal Femina dated 1906, before the Parisian oriental flamboyant craze arrived instigated by Leon Bakst’s costumes for the Ballet Russes in 1910.
1911 – Paul Poiret had an advertisement for his Fashion House designed by the Artist: George Lepape.
Wife of Paul Poiret.
A luxurious rust silk satin cloak in green velvet embroidered flowers.
1913 – Cold snowflakes fall but this lady has a warm pink coat.
1914 – He was called up to the front and designed his own uniform.
Many of the photographs on this page were found in this amazing aged copy.
At the height of the Ballet Russes in 1910, influenced by Serge Diaghilev and Leon Bakst’s extraordinary stage costumes, he became enchanted and bewitched with the treasure troves of Russian, Near Eastern and Far Eastern costume ideas from which he borrowed. In 1911 ~ A European Tour including St. Petersburg was arranged. He was the first Courtier to travel with his models to show his new clothes and the first to offer a range of perfumes, cosmetics, and toiletries named Rosine, (after one of his Daughters). He described Moscow as “The whole phantasmagoria of half-eastern life that is Moscow”.An interior decorating business was also opened offering carpets, divans, drapes, cushions and tasseled lamps, all bearing oriental motifs in exotic bright colours.In 1912 ~ He orchestrated the first Fashion Show. Another outstanding achievement was to open a Design Art School for poor Parisian girls. He named this after his daughter Martine. He used many of their designs and converted them into fabrics for cushions, curtains, rugs, wall coverings as well as garments. Roul Dufy designs were used fabrics too and both were used for brocades woven with brightly coloured birds, folliage, seashells, and human figures. The Martine school patterns included flowers dahlias, rosebuds, and artichokes they were then beaded and embroidered motifs for gowns and accessories.It is also known that he had a most generous and kind personality. Paul Poiret’s strong character and talent remains a legend in Paris. An Invitation to the Famous Party – design by Artist Raoul Dufy.
A very rare photo capturing the end of his much talked about party in Paris. We think he is seated in the middle. Looks like a lampshade on his head! See enlargment of this below.
He hosted the most prestigious revolutionary and extravagant parties in Paris, with his insistence that all his guests were to dress up in exotic costumes.His greatest remembered Ball was thrown in an Eastern theme.From the book Edited by James Laver, and Illustrated by Walter Goetz – called:- ~ Memorable Balls ~ which was printed in 1954, it gives an elaborate interesting story of one of these events.It has many grains of truth giving us an exciting vision of the place and time. An interesting fun exert from this book is:
“A seller of Monkeys walked about among his guests. Orchestras played softly out of sight. Nor were the other senses forgotten, curries cooked behind the scenes added their spicy fragrance. The buffets were loaded with every kind of exotic delicacy and there was also, a dusky bar where only the liqueurs were LUMINOUS.What alchemist had prepared the startling phantasmagoria of this disturbing laboratory… A hundred long-necked carafes, a hundred crystal ewers contained all the beverages whose gamut extends from Violet anisette, garnet bitters, emeralds & crimson of grenadine.Then there was licorice and almond emulsion, Chartreuse, gins, vermouths, orangeades, kirsches, all showing a palate with these pure tints, which they mixed as they pleased in the transparency of their long glasses. Thus they created mysterious and sinful drinks that were a feast to see and a surprise to drink!”This Exotic Eastern costume Party was held at his transformed House/Salon with hundreds of Artists, Designers, Fashion Houses, and Parisian Elite Society., sometime in 1911.
Another costume for the party? Complete with a false nose!! Photo by Lipnitzki. Boris Lipnitzki was born in Russia in 1897-1971 and then lived in Paris. He was a friend of Paul Poiret photographing his fashion celebration parties, also making connections to photograph many big society events in Paris. This photo is a fascinating character study of Paul Poiret. It may have been taken at a later date than 1911 because Boris would then have only been 14 years old. A vast collection of his photographs covered many of the great fashion houses. Chanel, Schiaparelli, Maggy Rouff, Molyneaux, Fath, to mention a few. The arts featured in a great number of beautiful photo’s covering ballet, theatre, and music concerts.
This grand ball with 300 guests, must have been a sensational sight when they were all together in a luxurious setting, especially designed by Paul Poiret.
The text for the above image :
He continued his researches into ancient Sumerian, Persian and Turkish costumes required for his theatrical shows. He also used the simple shapes of kimono jackets, long tunics over trousers, and sari like long scarves
1914 – Design by Paul Poiret and drawn by Simone A, Puget.
1915 and during 1918 he did no designing. He did create a perfume called Sang de France which was immediately banned by the authorities.
The Three Graces in the designs are dated 1924 and are part of a wider image. They are wearing stunning clothes an Evening Wrap and smart gowns complete with bobbed hairstyles.
1922 – A long red coat.
Artist: George Lepape.
The famous turban worn for Paul Poiret’s eastern clothes.
Our latest image found July 2012.…A black and white photo from L’Illistree.
Quote from Paul Poiret – “It was my inspiration of artists, in my dressing of theatrical pieces, that I served the public of my day”
“Am I a fool when I dream of putting art in my dresses, a fool when I say dressmaking is an art?” Poiret believed that an artist was someone who put himself into everything he did and he breathed his passion for fantasy and his rare individuality into each endeavor – writing, printing, theatrical, interior design, schemes for fabrics, perfumes, and design of dresses.
Paul Poiret sold the rights to his business in 1925.
Fashion House garment label: