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Often, the styles presented in fashion publications were taken from the stage wardrobes of leading theatrical actresses of the day. This practice encouraged the acceptance of many of Poiret's more radical creations. On the one hand, costumes intended purely for the stage allowed the designer to present hyperbolized and exaggerated silhouettes in the name of historical evocation. On the other, designs from his collection selected by a famed beauty for a drama situated in the present day validated his more artistic and theatrical efforts. The French correspondant for Women’s Wear Daily reported with regularity on the costuming of the stage both as an influence on the direction of fashion and, where fashionable dress was displayed, as a barometer of the most current taste. This coat, ‘La Perse,’ with its bold, woodblock-printed design by Raoul Dufy, is an example of the latter and appears in a Women’s Wear sketch of Eve Lavallière, an actress and celebrated courtesan. She wore it in Albert Capus' comedy Les favorites at the Theatre des Variétés in 1911. The simple T-shape of the evening coat, described in Women’s Wear as "cut on kimono lines." allows for the effective deployment of the overscaled pattern. Poiret's interest in the intersection of all the arts is illustrated by the fact that this pattern was also utilized in the wall treatment of his avenue d'Antin salon. While Lavallière's coat was black on white with black fox-fur trim, this coat, which belonged to Denise Poiret and which she wore on Poiret's first formal mannequin tour of Europe in October-­November 1911, as well as on his first trip to America in September-October 1913, is printed in an inky, midnight blue with rabbit-fur trimmings. Given that it was owned by Madame Poiret, it is likely to have been the prototype for others that were made for clients. (Another version was made for Olga de Meyer, the wife of photographer Baron de Meyer and allegedly the illegitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales and Blanche, duchess of Caraciolla.) Poiret inserted a pungency of color through the coat's silk lining, the sharp blue green of Persian tiles. Worn tightly wrapped, this signature element would not have been seen, but worn thrust back à la mode, the lining would have underscored the orientalist allusions of ‘La Perse.’

Details

  • Title: "La Perse"
  • Creator: Paul Poiret
  • Fashion House: Poiret
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Type: Coat
  • External Link: Link to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Collection Online
  • Medium: silk, metallic thread, fur
  • Designer: Textile designed by Raoul Dufy, (French, Le Havre 1877–1953 Forcalquier)
  • Date Created: 1911, 1911/1911
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2005
  • Creator Death Date: 1944
  • Creator Birth Date: 1879
  • Accession Number: 2005.199

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