Paris Fashions, September 1917

“Fashions as Usual” from wartime Paris — from World War I, that is. Delineator, September 1917.

During World War I, Butterick’s Delineator magazine, which had an office in Paris, continued to publish sketches of French designer fashions. Some of the ten design houses featured in this article, such as Worth, Paquin, Doeuillet, Doucet and Poiret are still fairly well-known today; others (like Jenny, Beer, Margaine-LaCroix and Buzenet)  are not so well remembered.

A glittering black satin evening dress by Doeuillet, 1917. Doeuillet opened his fashion house in 1900.

“Among the jet sequins on the bodice and hem, Doeuillet uses a few of silver, making the motives of the embroidery shadowy, phantom-like, lovely. The dress is of black satin with argent [silver] roses at the waist. The train is black satin like the dress.”

A dress by Margaine-LaCroix with a criss-cross sash that is typical of 1917.

“Silk jersey in a faint shade of reddish pink which Margaine-LaCroix calls rust color, with sash and collar of sand-colored silk. The skirt is cut wider at the top and the cascades end in heavy tassels.”

Both of the dresses below use navy colored fabric, and one also uses “flag blue.” The colors of the French flag are bleu, blanc, et rouge, which patriotically appear in several of these fashions.

Left, an ensemble by Jenny: “navy serge with a rose-red collar and dog-leash belt;” right, a navy, black and “flag blue” pleated dress with tunic by Premet. 1917.

Delineator, a “woman’s magazine,” was jingoistic and used many military terms in its fashion writing in 1917-1918. Jenny’s “not strictly submersible” dress is a reference to submarines  (submersibles.)

This “pale prune-colored” Paris suit by Beer has a cream satin vest (“gilet”) embroidered to match. 1917.

This was the era of the “Tonneau” or barrel skirt, and the width of women’s hips is deliberately exaggerated, as in the skirt below, which is “narrower at the hem than at the hip,” like the dress by Margaine La-Croix.

This dress from Paris, by Buzenet, in blue serge and satin has an organdy collar embroidered in gold. 1917.

Paul Poiret showed a loose-fitting red jersey dress, embroidered in blue and ochre yellow, with big pockets. 1917.

Famous for his exotic designs in the 1910’s, Poiret was still very active in the 1920’s. His 1924 “Brique” dress at the V & A Museum is still charming.

French designer Jenny showed this pale gray dress with a sleeveless coat embroidered in fine lines of green stitching. 1917.

Jenny was also a very well known designer in the 1920’s.

An afternoon dress by Paquin, 1917, “has all the hallmarks of its era.” The “tablier” [apron] hangs from the shoulders

The House of Worth showed a gray redingote [overdress open down the front] with a peculiar, stiff collar, worn here with a very wide, bird-winged hat. 1917.

Doucet‘s “Russian Blouse” is trimmed with rows of stitching and features a cuff-like pocket, matching the actual sleeve cuffs, that goes all the way around its front hem. 1917. The “double” criss-crossing belt is very characteristic of this period.

Jacques Doucet was included in “Ten Influential Fashion Designers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of”  and Gustave Beer was included in its sequel, “Ten (More) ….” 

Jenny (born Jeanne-Adele Bernard, married name Jenny Sacerdote) was profiled here. (The designer Augusta Bernard, who called her fashion house Augustabernard to avoid confusion with other designers named Bernard, was apparently no relation.) The Costume Gallery  does an excellent job of profiling designers in brief histories, with lots of thumbnail illustrations. You can find Beer, Doeuillet, Doucet, Jenny, Paquin, Poiret, Premet, Worth and many more famous designers at The Costume Gallery. To make full use of its extensive research library and photo collections, a small subscription is required, but even using the public access part of The Costume Gallery site is wonderful. I’ve added it to my “Sites with Great Information” sidebar.

6 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Vintage Couture Designs, World War I

6 responses to “Paris Fashions, September 1917

  1. Some beautiful pleating and cording details!

  2. The pockets in that last illustration reminded me of a feature in one of my latest patterns “on the table” to get to once more basics are done…

  3. Duy Khang Nguyen

    hello again
    I kind of confuse about this design

    what is she holding ? a parasol ?
    I remember no one carry parasol during september

    • I don’t know if it is a parasol or an umbrella. It doesn’t matter! Couture collections were (and are) always a few months ahead of the season when the clothes will be worn. This is a sketch of a couture afternoon dress, a sketch possibly made from memory and probably without the permission of the designer, Paquin. In her book, Fashion Is Spinach, Elizabeth Hawes writes about her experiences as a sketch artist in Paris in the 1920s. If you read it, you will know that fashion illustrations are not meant to be taken literally. This afternoon dress does not have to be worn with those shoes, or with that hat, and we will never know whether the model who wore it at Paquin was carrying anything in her hand unless we find a photograph or a written description. What the artist was trying to do is show what the dress looked like — probably so that it could be copied! Delineator magazine was published by the Butterick Publishing Company, which had offices in Paris in order to be sure that Butterick sewing patterns were based on current Parisian styles. (Madeleine Vionnet once had the Butterick offices raided by the French police, and sued Butterick for copying her dresses.)
      Please stop focusing on props added by the artist instead of the garments themselves. The props are usually invented by the illustrators. Fashion illustrations are a form of advertising — and advertising doesn’t always tell the truth.
      What is important — and what the illustration is intended to show — is how the dress is made. Are those pleats or tucks? How long is it? Where is the belt, and how high is the waist? How is it different from last season’s styles, or from designs by other couturiers? I will not answer any more questions about props.

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