Paul Poiret (1879-1944)
Fine flecked worsted, trimmed with rayon braid and tassels, machine stitched and hand finished
Museum no. T.339-1974
Paul Poiret (1879-1944) was born in Paris. He opened his own salon after serving an apprenticeship for Douçet and working for Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895). He was one of the most creative fashion designers of the 20th century. He also revived fashion illustration, founded a school for the decorative arts and even diversified into perfume. He led the forefront of the artistic fashion movement away from the curvilinear silhouette of the early 1900s towards a longer, leaner line. His brilliantly coloured, looser clothes, often inspired by the 'orientalist' enthusiasm for Eastern fashions and traditions, were extremely popular.
The use of rayon trimmings on this garment is interesting. In spite of the rapid development in the 20th century of man-made fibres, couturiers tended to remain faithful to costly natural fabrics, with the exception of trimmings, such as the braid on this dress. Braid manufacturers were among the first bulk buyers of artificial silk, and were then joined by hosiery and underwear manufacturers. By the 1930s an increasing number of couturiers were attracted to the newly available and sophisticated rayon dress goods.