Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Edwardian fashion’

Here’s a little story recounted by French fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879-1944) in his autobiography, King of Fashion.

paulpoiretI passed many times in front of the shop of this English master without daring to cross the threshold. One day, when I was feeling in cavalier mood, and since I needed a suit, I went in and ordered one, not, however, without asking the price, through fear of some unpleasant surprise. I was told one hundred and eighty francs – and I gave my order. 

“When shall I come try it on?” I added. 

“Our clothes are made in London,” I was told. “… and yours will not be ready for seventeen days.” 

… and in seventeen days I returned. Filled with emotion in the fitting room, I saw my coat arrive in the hands of the classic tailor, wearing a measure round his neck. I was astonished that they did not try on the trousers. He called the man who received me: “The trousers, Monsieur? What trousers? You did not order any trousers, nor a waistcoat either.” 

In the 1910s Paul Poiret was known for liberating women from the corset, only to confine their movement with the hobble skirt. Influenced by Asian aesthetics and theater, he was called “King of Fashion” and traveled extensively, including to America where he showed his designs and lectured.

I just finished Poiret’s autobiography, King of Fashion (V&A Publishing) first published in 1931. He led an interesting life and he was a good writer, but I was disappointed that he didn’t discuss his design process, his influences, and perhaps share some of his insights into the fashion industry of the era. I know that he fell out of favor after WWI and I was hoping that he might shed some light on that time of his life. I’m also aware that he met and encouraged designer Elsa Schiaparelli and I would have loved to know what he had to say about that, but no mention.

What he does discuss is his childhood and young adult life working for houses of Douchet and Worth. He goes into detail about opening his first fashion house and the many parties he hosted and attended. There’s lots of name dropping, which meant nothing to me as they were all French and a very long time ago.

Overall The King of Fashion is a good read, if you’re not expecting much about fashion.

Read Full Post »

IMG_20200507_164117575

Edwardian ladies in lace. 

Society tottered through the last of the pre-War parties, waved tiny lace handkerchiefs, and carried elaborate parasols until the War came with its sweeping changes. 

Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935), British fashion designer.

World War I (1914-1918) brought about many changes in fashion, particularly for women. Long lacy gowns were replace by shorter skirts and jackets in sturdy fabrics. No more excessively large hats but instead close fitted hats with little to no embellishments. Women were now on the move and their clothes had to move with them.

With this Covid-19 pandemic,  we might see our own changes in fashion. Or will we? Truth be told, we really can’t get any more casual. Perhaps we will flip to the other side and want to dress up, but I doubt it. For starters, most people don’t even know how to do that anymore.

One added accessory will be masks. Perhaps more people will want to wear hats, as added protection. Also, gloves. Matching sets! I see a potential for additional pockets in clothing to make things like hand sanitizer quickly accessible. Otherwise, with the distraction of the virus and wanting to keep distant and stay safe, people, now more than ever, are going to want to be comfortable.

Read Full Post »

Another one of my go-to movies is Miss Potter.

This 2006 film tells the bittersweet story of Beatrix Potter (played by Renee Zellweger) and the challenges she faces getting her children’s books (Peter Rabbit et al!) published  at the turn of the last century, when women just didn’t do such things.

No indeed, women instead must get married and despite Mrs. Potter’s best efforts to introduce her daughter to the right sort of suitor, Miss Potter says, ” I didn’t want to be marrying a man simply because he was rich enough to take care of me!” Then she met Norman Warne a publisher, and someone who connects with and appreciates Miss Potter. Warne is played by Mr. McGregor … a little Peter Rabbit inside joke … that would be Ewan McGregor.

Zellweger’s charming vulnerability is always a pleasure to watch and she does not disappoint in balancing the tenacity with the loneliness of her character, who easily wins our hearts. The costumes, by three-time Academy Award winner Anthony Powell, are an array of Edwardian treats: gored skirts paired with shirtwaists (button down blouses), high collars, belts, and small hats. Tailor-mades too, which were women’s suits made by tailors not seamstresses, who until the 1890s had made all women’s clothing. The men don three piece suits, detachable collars, and ties! I very much enjoy the London street scenes of the early 20th century as well as some beautiful countryside scenes.

There’s a bit of sadness in Miss Potter, but nothing dark and of course it ends on a hopeful note. “Pleasant and unadventurous” is what one reviewer said about this film and funny enough, that’s just my cup of tea right now.

 

Read Full Post »