Tag Archives: Paul Poiret

Claude Monet – Ode to Water Lilies

28 Mar

I am following Nature without being able to grasp her… I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.

1915. Water Lilies (fr.Nymphéas) - Claude MonetClaude Monet, Water Lilies (fr.Nymphéas), 1915

Surface of the pond is flickering in mystic blue and dreamy green shades, flickering gently as if it was a garment woven from blue topaz and emerald gemstones. These opulent jewel colours could only be compared to the magical silks and velvets that Paul Poiret used in his lavishing, oriental designs. Perhaps the same muse seduced both artists – a muse called ‘Nymphaea’ or ‘Water Lily’. Perchance it’s not a coincidence that these beautiful flowers share a name with Greek divine spirits – Nymphs; nude beauties observed by the Greek god of the wild – Pan. The pond is rustling a silver watery hymn, while the blades of grass, resembling long peridot-green locks of hair, are humming the sweetest notes of spring. Cerulean blue surface, slippery like silk petticoats of a duchess. Rhythmical water rippling. Quiet and deep mystic waters resonate with musical tunes.

Petal by petal, lush white flowers are awakening, their whiteness encrusted with amethyst pink tulle-like skirts. Water lilies are breathing the vivacious air, and exhaling the luscious flowery scents, their petals rustling like delicate silks of Paul Poiret’s divine oriental dresses. Sapphire blue leaves are emerging from the water like dozens of eyes. Sweet scents are pervading the air of this mystical haven. Every brushstroke reveals Monet’s enchantment with his Water Lilies, and the impossibility of discovering their secrets. For Monet, it seems, they were more than just flowers, but muses whose silent whispers he interpreted as invitations to paint them, in the same way he would paint an extravagant woman. And he always satisfied their vanity.

He painted them in all occasions: in morning freshness, just waken up and sleepy. In all their glory of colours when the sun of June hits their petals with its shine. He painted them distressed by the raindrops. Fragile and pale, flickering, in the morning dew. In the evening gatherings when the moon slowly appears in the sky, and they crowd round in the middle of the pond, sitting on their leaves like noblewomen of Venice in their gondolas, instead of masks their faces covered with the veil of night. He painted them surrounded by mystic purple waters, their petals like silvery veils, luscious white flowers resembling Ophelia’s white dress spread on the water in the last moment.

Due to their seductive beauty, it’s hard to tell whether these water lilies are indeed pure botanical creatures or real Nymphs, transformed by some strange spell into static flowers; sleeping beauties on the water. In 1896,  J.W. Waterhouse painted the scene of poor Hylas being abducted by the Nymphs; he portrayed Hylas as powerless against the charms of the Nymphs, and Monet did a similar thing. The massive amount of Monet’s Water Lily scenes serves as an evidence of his lifelong fascination with these serene flowers.

I hope you enjoyed the lyrical mood of this post.

Dressing a Titanic Lady

22 Apr

April always reminds me of Titanic era fashion. I don’t know why, it just happens every year; as soon as spring comes my thoughts turn to 1910s decadence in society and fashion. Titanic era is a fashion era of many prominent Parisian fashion designers such as Paul Poiret, Callot Sisters, Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Doeuillet, Jeanne Hallee and many others. Here are some of my favourite dresses from Titanic era (1910-1912.)

1911. Callot Soeurs Dress

1911. black evening dress by Callot Soeurs 11911. Evening dress by Callot Soeurs


1911. Evening dress by Weeks, peacock -simbol besmrtnosti,bogatstva i egzotičnosti

61.65.3_threequarter_back 00041910. French evening dress


1911. Oriental yet elegant Evening dress, France 1

1911. Oriental yet elegant Evening dress, France 21911. Evening dress, France


1912. Afternoon Dress by House of Doeuillet, Paris 1

1912. Afternoon Dress by House of Doeuillet, Paris 21912. Afternoon Dress by House of Doeuillet


1912. evening dres, pink 2

1912. evening dres, pink 1

1912. evening dres, pink 31912. Evening dress, France


62.15.2 0002

62.15.2_threequarter_back 00011912. Evening gown by Callot Soeurs


1912. G&E Spitzer, evening dress1910-12. Evening dress, G&E Spitzer


1912. Evening Gown, Liberty Company Ltd., London and Paris1912. Evening Gown, Liberty Company Ltd., London and Paris


1912. pink and lace dinner dress

1912. pink and lace dinner dress 11912. Dinner dress, France


1913. Evening dress and matching shoes by Jeanne Hallée 3

1913. Evening dress and matching shoes by Jeanne Hallée1912. Evening dress by Jeanne Hallee


1911. Evening dress by Paul Poiret1911. Evening dress by Paul Poiret


54.169.12 0002

Picture 0211912. Evening dress by Callot Soeurs


58.125.4_front 0002

58.125.4_back 00021912. Tea dress


1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth

1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth 2

1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth 1

1910. purple Evening dress by House of Worth 41910. Evening dress by House of Worth


63.226.1_threequarter_back 0002

63.226.1_front 0002

1910-12. Evening dress.


1911. silk evening dress, Worth 3

1911. silk evening dress, Worth 21911. Evening dress by Worth.

Paul Poiret or Exotic ‘Parisian’ Nights

14 Apr

‘…a couturier who employed the language of orientalism to develop the romantic and theatrical possibilities of clothing.’

One of my favourite fashion designers – Paul Poiret, was born on the 20. April 1879. in Paris. His innovative designs changed fashion landscape of the early 20. century. He was cunning, cheeky and radical.

1910s poiret

He first worked as an umbrella maker – a job his parents forced him to do in an attempt to deprive him from his natural pride. There he collected scraps of silk left over and created dresses for a doll his sister had given him. His career started when he showed Madame Cheruit, a prominent Parisian fashion designer, his designs. She liked his work and bought the designs.


He continued to sell his designs until he was hired by Jacques Doucet in 1896. Poiret designed a red cloth cape for the House of Doucet which sold 400 copies. He later worked for the House of Worth, but his experimental and provocative designs found no place in this Victorian fashion house. Even the customers were shocked when he presented them his designs.


Ahead of his time, he opened his own fashion house in 1903. with the help of Rejane, famous actress of the time. His first noticeable design was a kimono-coat. Poiret, a Picasso of the fashion world had a dramatic flair for exotic and opulent designs. His vivid greens, royal blues and brilliant reds soon replaced the soft, pastel colour palette so favoured by Edwardian ladies and Callot sisters, a rival fashion designers. In four years, Poiret had Paris at his feet.

1908. Paul Poiret 1

Far away and exotic countries such as Japan and Turkey served as his main inspiration and he soon presented his clientele with harem pants, turbans, hobble skirts and kimono-like jackets. As living pieces of art, his dresses were composed of rich materials, intriguing details, abundance of beads, a hint of crispy velvet and coated in exotic flair. He liberated women from their tight corsets – a legacy of Victorian times, but captivated them in hobble skirts preventing them from taking big steps. However, corset was far more popular than hobble skirt ever was.

1908. Paul Poiret 2

Poiret had an amazing sense for marketing and he attracted, not only his clients, but all of Paris by designing flamboyant window displays that caught every bodies attention. His grand soirees, luxurious  parties and costume balls became well known. For one of his costume balls, held on 24. June 1911. ‘The Thousand and Second Night’ (based on The Arabian Nights) he ordered his 300 guests to dress in Oriental clothing. Guests who disregarded his instruction were asked to either leave or to dress in one of his Persian costumes.

He was the first fashion designer ever to launch a fragrant connected to the fashion house named ‘Parfums de Rosine’ after his daughter. Inovative and ahead of his time, he started fashion photography in 1911. when Edward Steichen took photographs of models dressed in Poiret’s dresses.

1911. Paul Poiret, Opera Coat1919. evening dress, Paul Poiret1911. Evening dress by Paul Poiret62.129_threequarter_front 0003

Besides exotic world, Poiret had a living inspiration – his wife Denise. Denise, slender and youthful provincial girl, was Poiret’s muse and a prototype of la garconne (flapper girl). They met in 1905. and had five children together, including two daughters who became inspirations for his perfumes. Poiret said of his wife ”My wife is the inspiration for all my creations; she is the expression of all my ideals.”

1911. Fancy dress costume by Paul Poiret 1

After The First World War many fashion houses reopened but client’s tastes have changed. Fashion designers like Coco Chanel presented simple, sleek clothes that were cheap and practical. Poiret’s Arabian Nights exotic avant-garde designs found no refuge in post-war society. His theatrical, opulent, piece-of-art dresses were long forgotten.

New society, new fashion had no place for Poiret. In 1944, when he died, his glorious days, separated by two wars, had been forgotten. His friend and a fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli helped to prevent his name from falling into oblivion. She was the one to pay for his burial.