Paul Poiret- The Early Years

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Paul Poiret was one of the most influential fashion designers of the early 20th Century and played a major role in moving fashion away from the corset and its highly structural silhouette. But before his rise as Le Magnifique or the “King of Fashion,” Poiret got his start in the fashion industry as a free-lance fashion illustrator, selling his work to the various fashion houses in Paris. Later, in 1898, Poiret landed his first major position with the House of Doucet.

An early fashion sketch by Paul Poiret.

An early design by Paul Poiret.

While the above design definitely reads “1890s”, one can see a hint of what was to come with its clean vertical lines and the tiered skirt.

A later design pictured in the April 1, 1906 issue of Femina.

A later design for a Costume Tailleur advertisement pictured in the April 1, 1906 issue of Femina.

Here again we see the use of clean lines. The use of a diagonal check pattern also creates an interesting effect. It would have been interesting to see what colors the original outfit were. This is a tailored look that predates the Oriental influences that were to take hold in the following years.

In future posts, we will be exploring Paul Poiret more thoroughly but it’s interesting to see what was happening before his ideas took hold in the fashion world.

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