Jacques Doucet ~ 1853-1929
Biography of Jacques Doucet, fashion designer
Jacques Doucet was born in Paris into a family already in the garment business. His father was named Edouard Doucet. His Grandfather & Grandmother were bonnet seller’s & lace merchants at the beginning of the 19th century. Current update June 2014 images below.Read more ↓
One of the greatest Fashion Dynasty’s ever created was by them – claiming that they were founded in 1817, but first listed in 1822.
As early as 1815 they had a stall on the streets selling their lace. Later they rented a shop at the address of 21 rue de la Paix 21 PARIS. This was in 1824.
Their son Edouard expanded the business into linens for gentlemen.
His Clients were grand noblemen and Parisian aristocrats, including Charles X, Louis, Philippe, Napoleon III.
Jacques, Edward’s son had at an early age developed and interest in the refined elegance of women’s dress.
A new department was founded and entrusted,to the young Jacques Doucet. not long after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). Then almost overnight he became a KING of the realm of Haute Couture.
In 1871, Jacques opened a Salon selling ladies evening gowns, made of lace, silk ribbons, flowers, feathers, braid, beadwork and embroidery. He used rare gros point de Venise lace for entire dresses.
His ensembles were as romantic and opulent as the ladies in the 18th century paintings.The dress featured further down the page dated (1907) fits into this description and so could well have been made in this period, (1871) although later used in the Journal.
Paul Poiret worked for Doucet from 1897-1900. His story becoming legendry in the world of Fashion.
The latest image insert 2012 ~ In 1900 Doucet with new ideas! Red velvet with gold entwined threads.
DARING Doucet! His new Red Velvet
1901 – A studio background setting was used for this fashion photograph taken in black & white. This could have been a stage backdrop for a Theatre performance. The Photographer was Rutlinger. (These two rare photo’s and the one below,were found in separate books on different days at different events and by chance later linked up!)
1902 - The same background was used for this colour photograph. Quite a Luxurious gown for a rural setting. Miss Suzanne Avril we do not know, but she must have been someone very special.
Latest news update on Suzanne – she went to America and was in a Broadway Play in 1904 called Amoureuse. This ran from 12.3.04 to 7.11.04. Also she was in a FILM in 1909 “Les File du Garde Chasse”. 1901 – Another photo of Suzanne Avril showing an elaborate detailed jacket with toggles.
1902 – The famous Theatre Actress Rejane, born Gabrelle Charlotte Reju Rejane 5th June 1856.
In 1892 married Paul Porel to 1905. He was the Director of the Vaudeville Theatre. She had two chlildren a girl and a boy named Jacques.
Her gowns were designed by Doucet and were sensational on stage. Doucet’s life-long friend. He was known to adore her until her death, 14th June, 1920.
This is a rare photograph of Rejane taken in her early years as a performer and her dress could well be designed by Doucet. From a Postcar found by chance in July 2012 in a village in South Western France.A guess as to when this was taken would be as early as 1876 – 1886.
1903 - A busy day in the life of Rejane is depicted in these rare photographs found giving a graphic catalogue of events when she went for a fitting with Doucet for her gown for a play and a shoulder cape for her day dress.
Dress Fitting. Un Essayage de Mme. Rejane Chez un Grand Couturier. La premier – et les assayeuses s’empressent autour de la grande Artist dont les toilettes font sensation a la Ville et au Theatre. Fitting a shoulder cape for her dress. Also completing the dress below for her part in the Play.
This dress was worn for the first act – Play (Antoinette Sabrier). The description is: Toilet de satin faite en taffetas ROSE tres pale avec us fete de dentelles rousses sur la jupe et sur la corsage.
Home at last, from her visit to Maison Doucet ater 7 hours! Jacques her son meets Rejane assisting her from the coach with his raised hat and a friendly arm.
Note: (This carriage was later used for the Wedding of Maggy Rouff’s daughter and we have the photo of this on her page).
Rejane having a tranquil moment with her daughter and son Jacques to have tea and catch up. Rejane is wearing the shoulder cape to her her dress which was previously fitted in the photo above.
1903 – Rejane concentrating on reading her lines for her latest performance.
This beautiful gown was designed by Jacques Doucet, printed on the front cover of La Mode Illustree – appearing in 1907. The model is ~ Portee par Mlle Clary, de la Comedie- Francaise ~ and she had Doucet’s gowns for the Theatre, causing a spectacular sensation on the PARIS Stage.
These lace bands were probably made in France to represent the Venise designs. They were for the Couturiers to choose from. Doucet might have seen exactly these!
They are from The Album of Garnitures which also sold: Tresses, Souches, Passemeteries, Broderies, Fourrures, Boutons and Mercerie.
Original lace was offered by the metre from many different regions. France – Lyon. Chantilly. Britain – Brodery Anglaise. Spain – Vallencian, and Ireland – Irish lace designs.We found two damaged Albums of these samples dated 1906 & 1907. Some pages have the original little samples stuck to prints on the pages. Some patterned braids and cords used were often coloured and amazingly they are still bright. (See some black Lace in our pages for Emile Pingat).
A rare photo of a fashion preview for his Client’s. Doucet is overseeing the proceedings in the background, no doubt keeping a watchfull eye on who is going to buy!Jacques Doucet was an active participant in the world of literature and the arts between 1880 and his death. He had assembled a first class collection of manuscripts and rare editions by mostly contemporary French writers. He sought special bindings for these precious works and in 1916 he gave several commissions to a Designer named Pierre Legrain. Also he promoted Rose Adler, who specialized in the application of gilt tooling, designing clothing, furniture and jewellery. He commissioned her to prepare book bindings, and she produced 145 for him.The Bibliotheque Litteraire, Jacques Doucet, is a principal institution for the study of French Arts and letters, and collects French literature from Baudeiaire to contemporary writers. It’s holdings include more than 120,000 manuscripts and more than 35,000 rare books, as well as newspaper archives, photographs and works of art. The collections contain the archives of many important writers. As an essential research centre, the Library is a distinguished repository of France’s literary heritage.For Doucet, dignity and luxury were more important than novelty. He fell in love with elegance and worked to achieve it in his couture designs, and in his private life. His clothes were of perfect taste and luxury, his name was the only one equalled with the great WORTH.His clothes were worn by Sarah Bernhardt, Liane de Pougy, la Belle Otero, and many others were his Clients.He built a reputation as a connoisseur by his superb collection of 18th century works of art and paintings. He became a patron of the Impressionists and African sculpture.In 1909 he purchased Picasso’s first cubism painting Demoiselles d’Avignon and put it in a special wing at the head of a crystal staircase. His other passions were pictures and drawings of Watteau and Fragonard, pastels by Fantin-Latour, landscapes by Guardi, genre pictures and still lifes by Chardin. His drawing room furniture had been made by the best cabinet makers of the eighteenth century Riener, Leleu and Charlin.A day dress with bands of fringing typical for 1919, such a contrast from his earlier design opulence! Nonetheless, elegant in its lines.This evening cape was very bold having bands of pearls and jet beads, narrowing to a band across the bottom.Two more very different designs by Doucet. It looks like he is trying to move with the changing times of 1919 - leading to the very different era of the 1920’s.Our Latest image found July 2012…. This was printed in a copy of L’Illustration. The page text description is in French.
Gown photographed by G.L.Manuel Fere’s.
French Text from L’Illustration
Latest new find June 2014 Two pictures from L’Illustration. Published 5th June 1909.
The descriptions of the gowns (left) Robe textile Liberty pale blue The tunic is embroidery with pearls, and tourquoise & crystals or arjgent et azur/Silver/gold.. (right) Textile of mousseline transparent almond green & orange overlaid. Embroidered paillettes et cristaux or azure arjent et noir. Stunning colours for these designs – wishing they were in colour.
After Jacques Doucet’s reign ended in 1929, his Fashion House was merged with Georges Doeuillet, but the merger was not successful and it closed in 1932. George Doeuillet was born in 1875 and his photo here is a very rare find, it was part of a page advertisment selling corsets.
Reported in America 23rd Feb 1930. Quote: “Doeuillet-Doucet gives a very ladylike version of the Greek sartorial revival in the simple long lined draperies of his graceful evening frocks. A black satin robe has a high waist-line and the hip length retrousse peplum of the Greek Dancer, but it’s skirt hem stops just short of the floor”.
This is one of George Doeuillet’s original designs dated 1912. The dress has a very interesting description and the colours sound quite beautiful.
French text gown description