Paul Poiret – Designs From The War Years

Label Poiret

For Paul Poiret, the war years were a professional void. Recalled to military service in 1914, Poiret spend most of the war serving in a number of positions centered around the provision of uniforms. for the French Army. To read his autobiography, it’s evident that the war years were both financially and professionally unsatisfying. However, Poiret was able to keep his hand somewhat by creating designs that were to be licensed for production in the United States. Below is just one design that appeared in the March 1916 issue of The Women’s Home Companion:

Poiret Dress Design March 1916

And here’s some more details:

Suitable for sorts of afternoon and informal evening occasions, this costume designed by the couturier Paul Poiret can be made at home from a Woman’s Home Companion pattern. The price of the pattern is $1.50; its number 2990 and it is cut in 36, 38, and 40-inch bust measures. It may be ordered from the Pattern Department, Woman’s Home Companion, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City.

The illustrator has done an excellent job of presenting this design in the most optimal manner, portraying a simple, one-piece unstructured garment with a relatively short skirt and pleated hem. With it’s simple lines reminiscent of his earlier Nouveau Directoire and Classical Greek inspired styles, this dress was a reflection of the the changes fashion was undergoing during the second decade of the 20th Century.

Poiret’s signature hobble skirt is gone, replaced by something far more free-flowing and practical. Spurred by the impacts of the war, fashion had evolved to more practical styles and it would seem that Poiret was adapting. Of course, this also could simply have been his effort to keep his name out in the market (and supplement his meager Army pay) by churning out quick and simple designs. It certainly poses some interesting questions in that it’s clear that Poiret was quite capable of designing practical garments in spire of his learning towards the more fantastical.

This is an area that bears further examination and hopefully we’ll be able to unearth further examples to post here.

Fashion Advice From Paul Poiret

 

Label Poiret

In the course of researching something completely different, I came across some fashion advice that was attributed to Paul Poiret in the September 24, 1913 edition of the Los Angeles Herald:

…”select your gown according to the temperature, your mood, your temperament, whether you are at the seashore, in town or in the country, because gowns express every motion or condition.” M. Paul Poirot, the great Paris costumer, who is the creator of the tight skirt and other Innovations which were regarded as equally audacious when they made their advent, so declared today and added; “The simplest thing always looks the most original and I always strive for simplicity above everything…”

Poiret’s advice is timeless (although we could take issue with the always strive for simplicity part) and it could just as easily been said by any number of designers part or present. However, what is unique is that what a person wears does express every motion or condition, a fact that’s been noted by both designers and psychologists. 🙂

Poiret Sultan

Back From Pennsylvania…

I completely admit that this post is bit tardy, considering that I attended this event back in April, so I apologize for the lateness of this post…enjoy!


wp-1493837356796.

Recently I took a break from the usual round of activities to travel back east to Newville, Pennsylvania to attend the Great War Association’s (GWA) Spring 2017 battle event. For those of you who may not know, the GWA is an umbrella organization for First World War reenacting that draws reenactors from all over the nation (and even Canada) and they sponsor two events yearly at their site in Newville, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. Events typically draw anywhere from 300 to over 600 reenactors (Fall is typically the better attended event). The site itself is a small-scale recreation of a First World War battlefield complete with shell craters, trenches, bunkers, and even burnt-out buildings- it’s truly a “reenactor’s reenactment”.

Adam1 Newville April 2017

Here I am looking all heroic and all…

I’ve been involved in the First World War reenacting for over 20 years and I have always meant to participate in a GWA event but, as usual, life usually got in the way until this Spring when I decided that I needed a small break from the usual so off I went. The logistics of getting there was interesting to work out, especially since I’d never been there before, but in the end it all worked out. I found that flying into Baltimore was the most practical- there are cheap non-stop flights available on Southwest Airlines and rental cars are easy to arrange at affordable prices (of course, it’s even cheaper if you’re traveling with others). Finally, I was able to get a couple of good motel rates for before and after the event itself- it pays to book early. 🙂

Gruppe1 Newville 2017

We three Bavarians…

Weather-wise, Pennsylvania presented a bit of a contrast to what I am used to in Southern California- it was warm and humid  during the day (and really warm when the sun would come out) combined with the occasional shower. At night, the temperature would drop almost 20 to 30 degrees and on the last night of the event, it was freezing. In many ways, this mirrored the actual Western Front experience although we only had to “endure” for two days.

So, what’s the clothing tie-in? I thought  you’d never ask…well, in contrast to what I normally deal in, the order of the day is wool…lots of wool in shades of feldgrau and steingrau. Below is feldgrau as defined by the RAL color standard (RAL is the German color standard that was initially developed in 1927 and is the equivalent of the American Federal Color Standard System). Below is the RAL standard for feldgrau:

ral-7000-feldgrau

And for steingrau:

ral-7030-steingrau(2)

Of course, color standards are only an approximation and especially since it was developed after the First World War. Here’s an approximation of what feldgrau often looked like:

ral-7033-feldgrau

Needless to say, the subject of color is very subjective so the above is just to give a general idea.

Adam_Rain1 Newville 2017

Me coming out of the rain. Lack of sleep caught up with me…and yes, the wool does repel water (to a point)

As to the uniform itself, I am wearing the 1915 (1916 pattern for Bavarians) pattern coat, or bluse, which was a wartime simplification of the basic tunic. For trousers, I am wearing the prewar 1907 pattern. As for comfort, well things can get itchy sometimes and definitely hot in warmer weather but in cold weather, it serves its purpose very well.

Overall, it was a fun and exciting trip and I am looking forward to returning in the Fall. 🙂

Adam’s Atelier Returns To The Western Front: US Army Uniforms, 1915 – 1918

With great relief, I am pleased to announce that we’ve successfully completed my presentation on American military uniforms entitled “US Army Uniforms, 1915 – 1918” at Costume College. Costume College is an annual three-day costuming arts convention sponsored by the Costumer’s Guild West and it covers all periods and genres. With the success of last year’s presentation, I decided to do a repeat performance and my proposal was accepted. Since 2017 is the 100th Anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War, I felt that this would be a very timely and appropriate subject.

20170728_161701

The presentation was aimed at a general audience and designed to provide a basic overview of US Army uniforming of the First World War Era. The toughest part is that it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of the various details of the various uniform items and lose sight of the men who wore those uniforms- the men who underwent  what was probably the most stressful part of their lives. That’s something that’s not easily captured in a presentation some 100 years after the fact but I believe that we did a fairly convincing job of at least providing an overview.

20170728_161640

I was aided by a good friend of mine from Co. G, 364 Infantry, a living history group that’s part of the Great War Historical Society (of which I am a member of) acted as a live model and was also kind enough to bring a number of original items from his collection and that went a long way towards bringing the history directly to the audience. It was an excellent supplement to my Power Point presentation (Power Point seems to be a necessary evil these days).

Image result for us army 1918

Overall, it seems to have been a success and I hope to able to make this presentation in the future. I am considering expanding the scope of the presentation to include female uniforming- that’s an area that could use further research. More importantly, I think that adding female uniforms would help connect with the audience, especially since it’s predominately female.  🙂 I look forward to further work in this area.

Image result for wwi us army

And Going “Over There”…US Army Uniforms, 1915 – 1918

Finally, the big day is here and I am off to give my presentation on US Army Uniforms, 1915 – 1918 at Costume College. I have a ton of information and the able assistance of a friend of mine who has kindly volunteered to loan me some original artifacts for display. So we’re off and I’ll have more later. 🙂

Soldier1