“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.
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.