Poiret 1911 La Perse Coat

As well as presenting himself as an artist and patron of the arts, Poiret promoted his fashions as unique and original works of art in and of themselves. He did this by marshaling the visual and performing arts, and by working with artists associated with avant-garde modernism. Among Poiret’s various collaborations, the most enduring was with Raoul Dufy, whose career as a textile designer he helped launch. Dufy’s flat, graphic patterns were ideally suited to Poiret’s planar, abstract designs, a fact that is palpable in such signature creations as “La Perse” coat, “La Rose d’Iribe” dress, and the “Bois de Boulogne” dinner dress, which is made from a fabric that Dufy designed in conjunction with the silk manufacturer Bianchini-Férier.

Dufy’s boldly graphic designs reflected Poiret’s preference for the artisanal. The postwar embrace of an industrial and mechanical modernity was antithetical to Poiret. However, in the years before the war, the art of the workman, such as Dufy, or the self-schooled, such as Henri “Le Douanier” Rousseau, whom Poiret so admired that he created a dress, “Homage à Rousseau,” in his honor, was seen as modern in the repudiation of Belle Époque decadence and sophistication.

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