Jacques Doucet, Part 3

In this post, we look at some more facets of Doucet. One interesting area that Doucet excelled in was designing outfits for famous actresses such as Sarah Bernhardt and Gabrielle Réjane and especially in the early 1900s. Not only did his designs enhance these actresses but it also served as a form of advertising, a practice that continues to this day. The timing could not have better with the growing trend of the lingerie dress, a fashion inspired by the earlier chemise a la reine, a style that arose in the 1780s.

Doucet Rejane 1902

Dinner Dress for Rejane, c. 1902

Doucet_Rejane 1903

Rejane, c. 1903

Below are some examples of Doucet’s day dresses:

Doucet Afternoon Dress 1900 1903_1jpg

Doucet, Afternoon Dress, c. 1900 – 1903; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.579a, b)

Doucet Afternoon Dress 1900 1903_2jpg

The above dress is made from silk chiffon that has a printed pastel-colored floral design finished with delicate ivory-colored lace trim. As a counterpoint to the ethereal effect of the silk chiffon is a bright aqua/teal-colored velvet sash that drapes down the back of the dress with matching velvet bands on each sleeve and the collar. The overall effect was one of Doucet’s signature looks and during the early 1900s, it became increasingly prominent in his day dress designs.

This dress neatly fits in with the lingerie dress trend developing in the early 1900s, a trend that took its inspiration from the late 18th Century chemise dress or chemise a la reine. Of course, the fact that Doucet was enamored of 18th Century designs no doubt influenced Doucet’s design is no surprise. At the same time, one could also argue that in Doucet’s case, his design was simply a continuation of pre-existing ideas. 🙂

In any event, Doucet’s design, and lingerie dresses in general, represents a break from earlier styles in it’s emphasis on the light and airy, in much the same way the chemise a la reine represented a break with previous styles. Below is one example of the earlier style:

Anna Maria and Thomas Jenkins, by Angelica Kauffman, 1790. National Portrait Gallery (London)

The fact that  and there is no doubt Doucet drew inspiration from the chemise a la reine (although it could also be argued that this was merely a continuation of Doucet’s pre-existing design tendencies). At the same time, however, Doucet’s design was somewhat more sophisticated in his use of colors and fabric.

Below is another example:

Doucet, Afternoon Dress, 1903; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1153a, b)

Three-Quarter Front View

Here we see the use of a layered tomato red-colored silk chiffon ribbon trim on the bodice. The sleeves and the collar are an ivory lace trim and a silk satin sash at the waist complete the outfit. Further trim details in the same red color run in rows around the skirt. In terms of silhouette, one sees the pigeon breast characteristic of early 1900s dresses.  This dress is somewhat more restrained than the first example and its effect stems from the laying of fabrics and the use of trim.

With its characteristic pigeon breast silhouette and the use of sheer materials, lace, and ribbons, the lingerie dress served to define women’s day wear for almost a decade. In the next installment, we will continue our look at Doucet moving into the Teens.

To Be Continued…

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