The "King of Fashion" in America in the 1910s, Poiret is most famous for his designs influenced by orientalism, Neoclassicism, and Surrealism: the kimono, the Turkish trouser, the slit skirt, and the famous lampshade dress. Mostly, he is remembered for his stance on women’s fashon, simplification of the female silhouette. He dismissed the petticoat and the corset, as the trends shifted away from tailoring toward draping. He disliked the word fashion, opting instead to design women’s clothing solely as an expression of individuality. “Women are wrong for following one style,” he remarked. “They are not made alike, they do not look alike.” Poiret often exclaimed, “I’m an artist, not a dressmaker.” But like many designers, he was faced with unregulated imitators of his own designs. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|1911||The harem skirt pantaloons, designed by Paris-born Paul Poiret, make their debut in America.|
|1913||Interior and clothing designer, Paul Poiret is invited by department store magnates to embark on a tour of the United States along with his wife, Denise, often serving as model and muse. The purpose of the tour is to teach women how to properly dress and market his fashions to American women. During his tour, he supplies Harper’s Bazar with illustrations and articles.|
|1913||Poiret designs the lampshade dress, originally worn by a dancer in the Imperial Russian Ballet. He also costumes the gowns of “Le Minaret,” a play with an orientalist theme.|
|1915||After finding out that others were illegally copying his garments, M. Poiret led a successful charge to establish an association to copyright original fashion designs.|