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Womens fashion is dominated by the S-bend silhouette, created by a corset reaching down over the hips and thrusting the bust forward.

Paquin appointed President of the fashion section of the Exposition Universelle, Paris.

1901 Paul Poiret joins La Maison Worth.

1902 Mme Paquin opens branches of her couture house in London, Buenos Aires and Madrid.

1903 Paul Poiret opens his couture house in Paris.


Paul Poiret astonishes Jean-Philippe Worth with his design of gown based on simple, vertical lines.


Marius Heng, Parisian coiffeur advertises postiches (hairpieces) in the fashion magazines, Femina.


Paul Poiret wages war on the corset and establishes his Directoire style, which loosens womens formal silhouette. Mariano Fortuny design his Delphos gown. Based on the chiton. A tunic worn by Classical Greek charioteers, it was made of silk that was

very finely pleated.


Lucile designs an extremely large plume-laden hat for the actress lily Elsie to wear in the London stage production of The Merry Widow. The Merry Windows hat was fashionable for several years.

1909 Paul Poiret features harem trousers/skirt, a full, anklelength divided skirt or trousers, in his collection.

Coco Chanel opens a millinery shop in the boulevard Malesherbes Paris. Marino fortuny patents his pleating process.

1910 Coco Chanel is licensed as a modiste and establishes a millinery salon at 21 rue Cambon, Paris.


Paul Poiret design the hobble skirt Paul Poiret founds Rosine, a house of perfume, the Ecole Martine and the Atelier Martine, devoted to the decorative arts, and, with Raoul Dufy, La Petite Usine, a studio for printing textiles. Paul Poiret gives his exotic Oriental tete, the 1002nd night .

It is difficult to speculate upon the social or psychological reasons that prompt the periodic revivals of orientation in the diametrical opposed Western culture. But may be the real significance of a Napoleons expedition to Egypt, or the opening of a King Tutankhamens tomb, is that the West has an absolute need to inject not only the colour of the East into its pallid spectrum of browns and greys and black but also its qualities of the bizarre and the alien.

Whatever the reason may be, orientalism had in 1909 affected European fashion many times before it again struck at heart of London, Paris, and New york. This time it was to come via Russia, with the young Diaghilev and his artist Bakst as the spear heads of the invasion. A rising Parisian couturier, Poiret, was filter Basksts imaginative lan down to the public itself; or, acknowledging that Poriet may have been the innovator when he claims that his personal orientalism preceded that of Baskst, we may say that Paul Poriet exploited a parallel vein to the fantastic Orientalism which the Russian Ballet was to foster.

As a matter of fact, Poirets obsessions with the East continued to impose itself on the world of fashion for a long time after influence of Orientalism had waned. It is a tribute to his stubborn genius that he sent women off to the races wearing turbans and padded kimonos embroidered in the gold peacocks, and perversely made them accept his taste when time had already by-passed the sprit that animated it.

Diaghilevs talents were rare for any period. He was one of the powerful personalities who have helped to nature the art since Renaissance individualism. The vision, initiative, and daring of such men of taste have often stamped the style of their age with the authority of a king applying his signet to sealing wax.
These impresarios (and how that word has become vulgarized today) leave imprints which are not soon forgotten, influencing aesthetic trends for many years afterwards. None has ever surpassed the achievement or influence of the remarkable Sergei Diaghilev.

This extraordinary figure, so quiet and discreet, known intimately by a handful of initiates, moved in the rarefied world of Monte Carlo and the most carefully winnowed circles of London and Paris.
Yet today, audiences thought out the seven continent of the world, whether consciously or not, are applauding his taste and the result of his wonderful talents, for no one man has ever had a greater aesthetic on the years that immediately followed his death. Perhaps the reason for this is that Diaghilev, in his own life time, had an uncanny instinct for predicting the newest tendencies are accepting Diaghilevs discoveries as reflecting the sprit of their own age.

But whether dinners or ballets were at stake, Diaghilev had little business sense in any ordinary meaning of that expression. Indeed, his utter lack of vulgarity could hardly have allowed him one. But as though to compensate for that, he had untold energy at his command with which to raise money for each new ballet season from the patron who, unknowingly, were contributing to one of the latest great expressions of culture that the leisured classes were to produce.

Servei pavlovich Diaghilev was born in the Tsarist Russia of 1872. As a wealthy young Russian aristocrat of impeccable and varied taste, he had edited a remarkable art magazine which showed unmistakable sign of the masters originality and indicated his flair for discovering unknown painters. Later his interests were to turn suddenly to music, and later still he was able to fulfil his and combine these two early passions by creating the Russian ballet.

To carry out such a programme, Diaghilev sought the aid of Stravinsky, whose new music had already aroused both enthusiasm and criticism. For the dcor and costumes there were Benois, Sert, and Leon Bakst, whos work had been featured in Diaghilevs art magazine. Baksts vivid colours, extravagant materials, and flamboyant exoticism were destined to light up the international sky for quite a long spell, and their influence on fashion led to whole new phase of dressmaking. Together these three giants brought the dream into its initial realization.

The early season of the Russian ballet in the several years preceding the First World War are still spoken of with bated breath by those who were fortunate enough to see the miracle of Nijinsky leaping fifteen feet to the stage as the Spectre of the Rose, or Karsavina as Cleopatra being fanned by Nubian slaves. Working in close collaboration with Bakst, Diaghilev had wrought a miracle. For the first time the colours of a modern painter were brought to the scenery workshop. The emerald-green curtain and the cobaltblue walls in carnival were quite staggering in their impact.

The extraordinary reign of Diaghilev and the Russian ballet lasted less than two decades, ending with the impresarios death in 1929. Yet one can safely say that ballet has been feeding upon those years since Diaghilev withdrew the life force that had been the Russian Ballets mind and heart.

It is sad to think that at that time the impresario had to reply solely on private patrons and subsides, while his seasons inevitably showed a financial loss. Today, throughout the world, ballets companies have been commercialized, to the benefit of many a business tycoon. The art of the dance has latterly become as popular as Gilbert and Sullivan and is no longer a high brow institution or in any sense special.

Since the death of Diaghilev we have found nothing new in ballet little that is new in the dance or in painting. One wonders whether this is because Sergei Diaghilev is not here to make the discoveries or whether he died in 1929 because there were no further discoveries for him to make.

We can be grateful to Diaghilev for the influence he created and for that which has survived him. Nowadays it is not at all uncommon to see modern painters of note working on the dcor for a ballet or a play.
But until Diaghilev appeared on the scene no artist of even the stature of a Bakst or a Poriet had designed for the theatre. It took a Russian aristocrat, single handed, to lift the stigma and opened the field of designing to the highest talents. Alas, the lowest talents have profited as well, like the jackal at the kill. There can be no doubt but that the dance sequences in any mediocre Hollywood musical comedy are today reflecting, in a watered-down and bastardized fashion, the innovation that the master launched eighty and more years ago.

Paul Poriets orgins were humble. The son of the owner of a small textiles business, Poriet had very early age demonstrated his facility for improvising costumes. As an umbrella makers assistants, he stole small pieces silk in order to dress up childrens dolls in the Oriental taste . It was during a two years sojourn with Doucet that the youth served his apprenticeship as a dressmaker, an apprentice that was terminated when Doucet, sensing that the young mans talent warranted something better than a subsidiary display, advised poriet to launch forth on his own. Poriet, however was to hide his light for a time at the Maison Worth, until at last his rebellious sprit gained the since of authority it need to start an upheaval that revolutionized fashion.

The reigning dressmaker in this new harem world was Paul Poriet, who with his blazing hyperthyroid eyes and short beard looked to the young Cocteau like some sort of a huge Chestnut. Both innovator and a reactionary, a fashion tyrant and a generous, idealistic dreamer, Poiret was a complicated personality, perhaps one of the most paradoxical in many ways that fashion had, when couturiers have into their own as arbiters of taste. To appreciate his revolutionary influence on the prevailing mode, one must consider the kings he dethroned.

Worth was probably the emperor of the presiding geniuses of Paris fashion during the Edwardian period. That had been an age of ceremonial fashion , and the velvets, brocades, and broadcloths had been worn with an almost religious pride. For in spite of the latest outward sign of gaiety, the Edwardian age was still a ceremonious one, sustaining much of the sprit of Victorianism in its containing regards for bourgeois manners and ethics.

The men, too, in their frock coats, with beards and Ascot ties studded with great pearls, comported themselves as it for a ritual rather than celebration. Presiding over this world. Worth, Doucet, and Linker had little notion that they were soon to be ousted by a revolutionary who was to sweep all before him with his violent influence.

I waged war upon the corset, boasted this irrepressible dressmaker, and, like all revolution, mine was in the name of liberty-to give free play to the abdomen!
Yes, I freed the bust, but I shackled the legs! Women complained of being no longer able to walk, nor get into a carriage. Have their complaints or grumbling even arrested the movement of Fashion, or have they not rather, on the contrary, helped it by advertising it? I made everyone wear a tight skirt.


Madeleine Vionnet opens her couture house. The Gazette du bon ton, art, mode et frivolies is found by Lucien Vogel Jean Patou opens Maison Parry in Paris.


Paul Poiret undertakes his first fashion tour of the United States of America. Coco Chanel establishes a fashion shop in Deauville. Paul Poiret, with the help of Erte, design the costumes for Le Minaret. Performed at the Theatre de la Renaissance, Paris.

1914 Paul poiret is instrumental in the creation of La Syndicat de Defne da la Grande Couture franquasie et de Industries sy Rattanbhape. The first brassiere is designed by Mary Phelps Jacob Careses Crosby) and is patented by her in the United States of America. Edna woolman Chase is appointed editor of Vogue. Vogue Patterns is launched.

Baron de Meyer wrote in Vogue magazine during the 1914 war, It is astonishing how, during these last few years, colour seems to have been used indiscriminately, almost felt as a necessity, perhaps to counterbalance in some way all the sadness and mourning that pervades Europe. Never have we heard more of shortage of dyes, never were they more scarce and costly, and yet, never have we had such an orgy of glowing oranges, greens, or reds as during these last months. The shop windows of Marshall and Snelgrove displayed colour schemes in emerald green and blue, and Monsieur Cartier mixed coloured jewels together for the first time

We may find a partial explanation for the rise of poiret in the parallel advent of the Russian Ballet, which naturally turned many enthusiasts to Orientalism. Yet poriet himself vehemently denied any eclectic influence of Baskst, and had assured by his nephew, Monsieur Bongard, that there was no real or substantial link between Poriet on the one hand and Bakst and the Russian ballet on the order. This is somewhat reminiscent of the cubist denial that they had ever seen African art before launching their movement.

To enter Poriets salons in the Faubourg St Honoree was to step into the world of the Arabian Nights. Here, in rooms strewn with floor cushions, the master dressed his slaves in fursand brocades and created Eastern ladies who were the counterpart of the Cyprians and chief eunuchs that moved through the pageantries of Diaghilev.

Poiret had no respect for good taste. He forced his victims to wear chin straps of pearls, slung them with white foxes stabled them with fantastic ospreys, imprisoned them (as one hobbles the forelegs of a horse to prevent him from running away) in harem skirts. Wired tunics like lampshades were hung round the ladies Hips, heavy capes enveloped them, and they were laden with tassels and barbaric jewels. This violent orientalism, which which shackled and bound some of Paris most respectable women, was even more extraordinary when one considers that Poriet himself had at the time never been out of France.

1915 Coco Chanel establishes Chanel-Biarritz, a maison de couture in Biarritz. 1916 Cristobal Balenciaga opens a dress making and tailoring establishment in San Sebastian. British Vogue is founded.

1917 The barrel-shape skirt is popular. The Legroux Socars open a fashion house.

1918 Fendi Company is founded by Adele Fendi. Lucile closes her fashion business. Hattie Carnegie Lunches her first collection.

1919 Coco channel is officially registered as a couture and establishes her maision de couture at 31 rue Cambon, Paris, Paul Poriet relaunches his fashion houses and opens Oasis, a theater in the garden.

Edward Molyneux opens a dressmaking saloon in Paris. Jean Patou a couture house under his own name.


Mme Paquin retires, but her couture house remains open.

Paul Poiret delivers his lecture, In Defense of Fashion, at the Autumn Salon.
Coco Chanel lunches her masculine style, baggy yachting trousers.


Coco Channel launches her perfumed channel No.5. French Vogue is first published and Carmel Snow is appointed a fashion writer on America Vogues. Artificial silk is on the market for the first time, and from 1924 is known as rayon. Elasters is being used more in corsetry.


Paul Poiret undertakes his second fashion tour of the United States of America. Paul poiret commissions Man Ray to photograph his design. The Prince of Wales popularizes the Fair Isle sweater. Coco Chanel lunches her wide legged Flaring beach pyjamas. Publication of the novel La Canonn by Victor Marguentte. The garcon style is synonymous with a boyish silhouette. Slender at the chest. Wearing loses, comfortable clothes, sporting a short hairnet and wearing little makeup. Coco channel is considered the archetypal garcon.

1924 Parfums Chanel is established and coco Chanel opens a jewelry workshop.

Coco chanel design the costumes for jeans Cocteaus opertte-danse, Le Train bleu, performed at the Theatre des Champs-Ely sees, Paris, which had a considerable impact on fashion. Jean Patou puts his monogram on his fashions. Marcel Rochas opens his couture house.

1925 The Gazette du bon ton, art, mode et frivolits merges with Vogue.

Oxford bags are popular and skirts are becoming shorter. 1926 Paul Poirets Mantine and Rosine companies are sold. Valentina starts her dressmaking business in New York.

1927 Elsa Schiaparelli opens a shop called Paur le Sport in Paris.

Jean Patou brings out suntan oil. Reasearch starts on nylon at the Du Pont company,United States of America.
Paul Poiret writes an article entitled Will Skirts Disappear?. Paul Poiret undertakes his final fashion tour of the United States of America where he also gives lectures on dress.

Sandwiched between two world wars, between poriets harem and Diors New look, two women dominated the field of haute couture- Schiaprelli and Chanel.

The first in time and by far the more gifted was Mademoiselle Chanel, a peasant girl from Auvergne who quickly asserted her forceful and unique personality on the styles of the twenties. One can imagine her, in the small hat shop she owed, glancing round the post-war scene, dissatisfied with the musketeer hats, Directoire capes, sagging tail coats, and near hobble skirts, the remnants of a military fashion that was still in vogue, and deciding to create her own fashion. So chanel appeared at the races in the gabardine of a young English student with a school girls hat on her head: at the casino her skirt was sufficiently she was to been seen with a waistline down to her hips. It was not long before the few women who set the styles were interested, mesmerized, and finally won over by this new personality.

Soon thereafter chanel gave up her hat shop to enter the ruthlessly competitive field of fashion design.

The age of elaborate ornamentation was over, and an era of simplicity had begun. Channel had pole-vaulted womens fashion from nineteenth centuries into twentieth. It was a far cry from poriets extravagant plumes and furs or Luciles pastel-coloured chiffon to the beige uniform of knitted wool, the jersey and short skirts with which channel replaced them.

She hated the way hairdressers set their clients hair in tight waves like cart ruts, and she would take nail scissors and crop the hair of her favourites herself. She then set about concealing their breast and buttocks. Women began more and more to look like young men, reflecting either their new emancipation or their old perversity.

Perhaps chanels genius lay in her institution that ladies were tired of the finicky trimmings that had been decked upon them for decades. She guessed that women of Fashion would be riding in subways and taxis and would require a new concept. Possibly she turned to nature and rediscovered, or reaffirmed, the fact that the female of the spices is generally unadorned, that female birds are drab compared to the males. The trick, or the genius, was to convert this drab look into a mode of brilliant simplicity, which was exactly what channel did.

Ruthlessly women were stripped of their finery, fitted with a tricot and skirt or a plain dress: and when they looked like western union messenger boys, when they had been reduced to chic poverty, then and only then, did she drape them with costume jewellery, with great lumps of emeralds, rubies and cascades of huge pearls

Her way was not madness, but methods. As a dress designer, she was virtually nihilistic, for behind her clothes was an implied but unexpressed philosophy: the clothes do not really matter at all, it is the way you look that counts. Thus in the twenties, fashionable women begin to take on an appearance which has since become standard with the American working girl of today and which, for that matter, chic women have never quite lost. The most important reason of all Chanels success was her insistence that women should look young. Previous to channel, clothes were designed for mature women, the social and cultural leaders of fashion. With chanel advent they were all cultural leaders of fashion. With chanels advent they were all designed for youth: or, if not for young women, were designed to make mature women look young. It was her belief that a good figure was more important that a pretty face; yet she claimed also that it was just easy to dress a fat women as a slim one.

Chanel not only invented ingenious ways making women look twenty years younger, but she also contrived brilliant inventions for making them look expensively poor. Women would be dressed in workmens velveteen coats with an apache hat or would wear ordinary felt overcoats. Not until the coats were taken off did one realize they were lined with sables. Channel made dresses of sand coloured woollen materials that had previously been used only for the somewhat sordid underclothes of men.

It was Ina Claire who, in her own feminine way, exploited the channel look on Broadway. She was among the first to bring real channel look on Broadway. She was among the first to bring real clothes into the theatrical scene. Previously actresses had worn only costumes. For drawing-room comedy scenes Ina Claire would appear in pale beige kasha dresses or two-pice velveteen suits, and thereby paved the way for actresses to wear Edward Molyneuxs suits on the stage.

Chanels personality, like her designs, was somethings of a paradox, a mingling of the, masculine and the intensely famine. Actually the concept she had of women was entirely feminine: she wanted them to be charming and simple and nature, bemoaning the fact that the young were not sufficient romantic. She detested affectation and believed that women should let their hair grow white if it was inclined to do so. This last opnion has such effects that many younger women went so far as to stimulate, by using power in their hair, a premature streak of white. The profession of men bored her. When Cocteau told her she had a masculine mind, she became furious and, as a gesture of defiance, put a small girls hair ribbon round her head, knotting it in a bow on the top: a fad was created.

Though the dresses she design seemed at times on the ascetic side, Channel herself lived in great luxury, both material and intellectually. Snobs and poets were her friends. Her surrounding were of regency gilt and cocoa-coloured suede: she had Louis Quinze gold tables, brown cormandel screens, rock crystal, and too many dark red roses.

She loved jewellery but stressed that it was to be worn as junk: i.e. regardless of its value, as something decorative or amusing, but never because it was expensive.
By day, with her informal clothes, she would wear a great deal of jewellery: but at night, with her evening dresses, she wore perhaps only one bracelet. Much of Chanels costume jewellery was copied from her own fabulous collection of flawless emeralds, rubies, pearls and diamonds.

1928 Hattie Carnegie launches a ready-to-wear collection. Coco chanel founds Tricots-chanel. Renamed Tissues chanel, at Asmeres. Adrian design a slouch hat for Greta Garbo to wear in the film. A Woman of Affiars.

1929 Elsa Schiaparelli shows her first collection in Paris. Paul Poirets couture house is closed . Coco Chanel opens in her couture house in Paris a boutique selling accessories scarves, handbags, belts and jewellery.

1930 The American, Mainbocher, opens a couture house in Paris. Berlei (UK) is established and introduced a system of sizing for womens underwear.