Paul Poiret: Sultan of Bling

After being lucky enough to attend the press preview of “Poiret: King of Fashion” this morning at the Met’s Costume Institute (Hamish Bowles sighting!), I have a new appreciation for a true Mastercraftsman, and a new obsession: Poiret’s muse of a wife. Denise Poiret’s tiny frame and limitless supply of confidence were the designer’s main source of inspiration, along with the Ballets Russes, Orientalism and the 1001 Nights. Her willingness to don revolutionary dresses such as the Chemise (inspired by her second pregnancy), and to shun the corseted looks popular at the time paved the way for the free-spirited aesthetic that runs rampant today. Known for his lavish costume parties, Poiret was actually the first designer to craft a lifestyle brand, rolling out fragrances and homewares as well as haute couture. What struck me throughout the exhibit was the timeless beauty of Poiret’s designs, so much of it looked modern and totally fresh, the fabrics sumptuous and seemingly immune to the ravages of time. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, May 9-August 5, 2007


Chemise Dress worn by Denise Poiret, 1912


‘La Perse’ Coat worn by Denise Poiret, 1911


Evening Dress, 1925; ‘Irudrée’ Evening Gown, ca. 1922


‘Théâtre des Champs-Élysées’ Evening Gown worn with ‘Espérance’ Headdress, 1913


‘Le Bal’ Shoes worn by Denise Poiret, 1924; Boots worn by Denise Poiret, ca.1913; Stockings worn by Denise Poiret, 1910-1925


‘Homage à Rousseau’ Evening Gown, ca. 1910


Nightdresses worn by Denise Poiret, ca. 1920


Block-printed silk faille Dress, ca. 1922-23


‘Révérend’ Coat worn by Jeanne Boivin-Poiret, 1905


Opera Coat, 1912

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