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Opera coat

Paul Poiret1911/1911

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Breaking with nineteenth-century couture conventions, Paul Poiret’s designs of the 1910s relied on draping techniques rather than tailoring. This approach yielded soft, flowing forms that hung loosely from the body, a departure from precisely shaped pattern pieces made to fit the exaggerated contours of a corseted figure. Poiret was an influential advocate for the abandonment of the corset. In his efforts to design clothing that liberated the body, he turned to antique and Eastern forms of dress, finding inspiration in the linear cut of garments like the kimono. The influence of the kimono’s geometric cut is evident in this opera coat composed of rectangular pattern pieces that hang from the shoulders. Poiret’s concept of garments based on straight lines and a flat construction offered an innovative model for Western dress that changed the course of fashion history and anticipated the styles of the following decade.

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