Paul Poiret is regarded as having created the foundation for contemporary fashion. Wishing to become a designer, he found a position in the shop belonging to Jacques Doucet, then moved on to work for Charles Worth, both of who produced traditional clothing for the court and upper classes. However, Poiret wished to create simple, practical clothes so he left Worth’s shop and began his own business in 1903. In 1906 he introduced a high-waisted dress that did not require a corset, this representing a radical revolution in Western clothing design.
This Garden Party Dress which was produced in 1911 is designed to be worn without a corset. With its high waist and slim silhouette, it is reminiscent of the ‘Empire Style’ that was popular, mainly in France, approximately one hundred years earlier. It is quite different from the style of closely-fitting dresses with exaggeratedly thin waists that had been popular in Western Europe up until that time. Exploiting the comfort of the fabric that was achieved by cutting in straight lines, he made the garment follow the ‘natural’ lines of the body. The silhouette of this kind of design was then completed by using organdy and other soft, thin fabrics as can be seen in this example. The bodice and the hem of the skirt are decorated with Poiret’s favorite rose patterns which have been applied using a stencil and then surrounded with gathers. It projects an image of simplicity and innocence making it a characteristic work of Poiret’s.