Although most of the illustrations are in black, gray, and white, try to imagine these dresses in colors: a dark, a middle, and a light version of the same hue, e.g, espresso brown + coffee with cream + cafe au lait; or deep blue-green + teal, + pale aqua, etc.
Women were encouraged to think of “blue, from baby to navy, with the many off shades which steal a tinge from the Mediterranean sky, the changing ocean or the twilight tints. These easily merge into orchid, with its overtones of lavender, mauve, and purple. Sports clothes are often flushed with rose, including every possible variation from flesh to wine, rosy beige to rust, pale cyclamen to dahlia red. Another important color range is based on yellow and brown. And white, always, only more so, alone, with black, or linked to some more lively shade.” — “The French Riviera Mode,” in Delineator, Feb. 1927, pg. 14.
Many of these composé dress patterns were in the March 1927 issue of Delineator. They show a nice range of skirt designs, with single or double pleats for movement placed differently in each pattern. The device we call a “kick pleat” in back was not used.
I don’t know who the “famous Paris couturier was,” but the Delineator showed that several designers got on the graded color bandwagon:
Sometimes the graded colors were used more subtly, or as accents, as in this elegant two-piece sports dress by Lucien Lelong:
This dress is not, strictly, composé, since the colors are only trim.
Although not really color blocked, this dress uses three shades, with red-brown as the darkest, fading through rosewood to a muted coral.
However, it doesn’t have the dynamic repetition of shapes seen in these two composé dresses from Butterick:
They may have graded colors in common, but what a difference in styles!