Now Get a Minaret Gown!

The Sunday Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch1913/1913

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The State Tretyakov Gallery
Moscow, Russia

Now Get a Minaret Gown! Could crinolines be back again?
The main task for the new skirt is to stand away from the figure, while the steel wire edge serves as a reminder of grandmas’ crinolines. Are we getting far, far back — all the way to crinolines?
Isn’t the lamp-shade skirt with a steel wire edge last century’s very “crinoline nightmare,” in which fashion is trying to fit us before we catch its true intentions?
The wire tunic that Paul Poiret very cautiously presented to the broad public a few years back, is being treated as a novelty this year. It is the most vivid characteristic feature of this season’s style in all of its diversity and possible modifications.
What was originally referred to as a lamp-shade skirt is currently called a “minaret” after the play with the same name that has been popular in Paris and Vienna. One should note that the name is also used by another well-known fashion creator, Léon Bakst, who added his quirky imagination to the main concept of his outfit, thus redefining it.
“A characteristic feature of the minaret gown is for the most part its colors, rather than the cut,” Bakst says. “It is the organized disorder of the main colors, smoothed by draped colored chiffon, sparkle and shining of beads and gems — these are the bricks, which are used to build my minaret.” At the same time, Paul Poiret willingly points to the lamp-shade skirt as the source, along with the fantastic Oriental costumes of Bakst’s Arabian fairy-tales. “Inspiration came to me from old Persian miniatures,” the artist shares. Commenting on the favorite model, he admits: “My main interest in the minaret gown, or the lamp-shade skirt, as they call it.” Next season, all of my models will have this cut, this way or another, and I hope and believe that it will be a great success. The spirit of the East that permeates modern fashion dominates in these costumes. The skirt is bouffant and gathered at the bottom, and whether it is forked or not, it is baggy and looks like harem trousers. The upper skirt must be above knee-length, which is another novelty of this season.”
Naturally, the said trend is followed when gowns for various occasions are designed, whether a daily dress or an evening gown, a leisure dress or a dress for special festivities.
This page features examples of daily outfits and gowns for parties and leisure. On models you can also discern the tunic from the star couturier with rigid spaced edges. Where the upper skirt of such gowns is not reinforced with wire or whale fin, it is rendered semi-rigid with the help of metalized thread from beads of rock crystal, crystal border, or abundant fur. A skirt often needs no wire and looks bouffant when Brabant loop, tulle, or other quite firm fabrics are used.
The new outer skirt sewn from transparent fabrics and bordered with a firm edge is an exact copy of the lamp-shade skirt. We can give it an Oriental name, accredit it with Oriental roots and associate it with Persian chic, but the fact remains — the main task of the new skirt is to remain as far from the figure as possible. Crinolines performed the same task before. No family albums of the past could argue that many costumes managed to reach this objective.
If fashion followed logic, if it were consistent and complied with the laws of history, then, based upon the appearance of the lamp-shade skirt, one could easily predict the soonest return of crinolines.
However, omniscient Paul Poiret says: “No one will be able to say what will be happening in fashion next, because fashion is all about feeling, not theory.”


  • Title: Now Get a Minaret Gown!
  • Creator: The Sunday Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Date: 1913/1913

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