Tag Archives: Paul Poiret

High Low Hems for Evening — 1929 and Now

Maid of Honor and Bride, May 1929. Butterick patterns 2360 (left) and 2634 (bride.)

Maid of Honor and Bride, May 1929. Butterick patterns 2360 (left) and 2634 (bride.) Illustrated by Muriel King.

Evening dresses, as well as day dresses, had reached historic heights by the late twenties, exposing middle and upper class women’s legs to — or above — the knee for the first time in thousands of years. We know that hems descended rapidly in the early 1930’s, so it’s easy to assume that some women welcomed a return to the lengths they were used to from the 1910s. I’ve been writing about the high-in-front-low-in-back hems of the late 1920’s as a transitional fashion — a way of “easing” into a longer look. (Click here for Part 1.) (Click here for Part 2.)

Miss Jean Ackerman wearing a gown by Paul Popiret in Ziegfeld's production of "Whoopee." Licy Strike cigarette ad, March 1929. Delineator.

Miss Jean Ackerman wearing a gown by Paul Poiret in Ziegfeld’s production of “Whoopee.” Lucky Strike cigarette ad, March 1929. Delineator.

Poiret was no longer a leading couturier in 1929, but top designers like Lelong, Molyneux, Worth, and Cheruit were all showing  what I’ll call High/Low hems.

Couture evening gowns by (from left) Louiseboulanger, Lelong, Cheruit, ; sketched for Delineator, May 1929.

Couture evening gowns by (from left) Louiseboulanger, Lelong, Cheruit, Molyneux, and Lelong; sketched for Delineator, May 1929.

Couture from Lelong, Louiseboulanger, Vionnet, and Vionnet. Sketched for Delineator, May 1929.

Couture from Lelong, Louiseboulanger, Vionnet, and Vionnet. Sketched for Delineator, May 1929.

For those who love a sewing challenge, here’s a closer look at two 1929 Lelong gowns:

Couture gowns by Lucien Lelong, Illustrated in March and May, 1929. Delineator.

Couture gowns by Lucien Lelong, Illustrated in March and May, 1929. Delineator. I’ll link to some modern leg-baring dresses with sheer overlays later.

Worth designed this white velvet wedding gown for Princess Francoise of France in 1929. The gown is relatively simple so as not to detract from the yards of heirloom lace in her veil.

Worth wedding gown designed for Princess Francoise of France. Sketched in Delineator, June 1929.

Worth wedding gown designed for Princess Francoise of France. Sketched in Delineator, June 1929.

Bridesmaid dress by Ardanse. "Green taffeta with the yoke, tiny sleeves and skirt of tulle." June 1929.

Bridesmaid dress by Ardanse. “Green taffeta, with the yoke, tiny sleeves and skirt of tulle.” June 1929.

Commercial designs followed suit:

Wedding gown in Butterick's Delineator, June 1929.

Wedding gown in Butterick’s Delineator; illustration for article, June 1929.

Butterick pattern 2632 has a coordinating jacket. May, 1929.

Butterick pattern 2632 has a coordinating jacket. May, 1929.

Butterick pattern 2634 dress and jacket; May 1929.

Butterick pattern 2634 dress and jacket; May 1929.

As I said, I’ve been thinking of these dresses with hems that are simultaneously long and short as “transitional” fashion. I know some readers really dislike them; I may have bad news for you. Here’s Sonya Molodetskaya in a gown by Vasily Vein – worn in San Francisco in September 2015. (Photo by Laura Morton.)

We have now been living in a long period of varied hem lengths — without the edicts of other eras that “this season the hem will be nine inches above the floor” or “Just at the kneecap.” So how am I to explain the reappearance of high-in-front-low-in-back hems?

These were seen at the San Francisco Opera and Symphony events in September, 2014 and 2015:

A red satin gown by Rubin Singer (click here.) (2015)

Designer Yuka Uehara in her gown for Tokyo Gamine (click here.) (2015)

Another super-short front and full trained gown worn by Sonya Molodetskaya  (click here.) (2014)

Komal Shah in Oscar de la Renta (Short in front, click here.) (Another view click here.) (2014)

Belinda Berry demonstrated her love of outrageous formal outfits by wearing her own high/low design . (2015)

Pianist Yuja Wang in mini-dress with long sheer overlay  (2015) proved that Heidi Klum (seen here at the Emmy Awards) (2015) wasn’t the only person wearing a short hem and a long hem at the same time. Fashion indecision? Fear of commitment? Anything goes? (Klum’s yellow dress from Atelier Versace, with a choice of hems and two completely different sides, seems a little too indecisive to me!)

 

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

Fashions from Paris, January 1924

Illustration from January 1924 Deliineator. Not by Soulie.

An illustration — not by Soulie — from January 1924 Delineator. 

 

“Soulié’s Sketches Sent from The Delineator’s Paris Establishment Draw Attention to Godets, Princess Lines, and Frills Flat or Otherwise.” — Headline in Delineator Magazine, January 1924

Butterick Publishing Company kept an office in Paris for the purpose of following the  latest fashion trends and reporting on them. (Not to mention producing Butterick patterns based on those trends.)

In January of 1924, Soulié sketched designs by several well-known Paris houses:  Patou, Agnès, Doucet, Louise Boulanger, and Poiret. Since Downton Abbey’s current season is set in 1924, this seems like a good time to show some 1924 French designs. (Even though my real interest is in clothing for ordinary people, the influence of major French designers always percolates down through the department stores and pattern houses.)

Jean Patou

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

“A coat that has quite the cut of a suit is made by Patou of black kid lined throughout with persisky — a form of civet — and trimmed with straps.”  [In other words, this is a soft leather coat lined with fur.]

“Flat frills begin where the straight coat ends in a suit of green fulgarante with a knee-length bodice of green and gold brocade with collar and cuffs of gray fox. From Jean Patou.” [“Fulgarante” is apparently one of those words with a specialized meaning to fashion writers; it is Spanish for “blazing.”]

Agnès

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

“Suit coats are of all lengths and many cuts, but the string-tied jacket and narrow skirt remain as popular as ever. Agnès uses them for a suit of beige zibella velours de laine with bearskin collar and cuffs.” In January of 1913, the New York Times reported that “Velour de laine, that soft, silky woolen tissue that arrived in the Autumn and was so popular till satins and silks usurped its place later, has now reappeared ….” [ Velours means velvet, laine means wool, and zibella is a mystery to me!]

“Gold braid underscored with rose-colored embroidery binds the slashed edges of an overdress and tunic of black crêpe marocain.  The foundation is narrow, the sleeve short, and the length about eight inches from the floor. From  Agnès.” You can find out more about Agnès, and see one of her dresses, at 1stdibs. Click here.

Paul Poiret

A Dress and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A dress with metallic threads and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“For the new note of gorgeousness that the French dressmakers are introducing, Poiret uses embroidery of silver and gold on a dress of blue poplacote moire.” [Poplacote is another term my search engine has never encountered.]

“Poiret uses suède-colored sapho velvet trimmed with civet cat for a wrap that hides the fact that it is a coat under cape-like sides lined with black satin.” There is a brief biography of Paul Poiret at Encyclopedia Britannica (click here).  The Metropolitan Museum devoted an exhibition to Poiret in 2007; click here to visit it online. You can see his iconic “lampshade” dress of 1912 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Click here. (Be sure to look at the second image — the color and beadwork is lovely.)

Louise Boulanger [She later designed as Louiseboulanger.]

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“The Ladies’ Book of 1924 is to show godets in skirts and capes according to an interesting coat of green wool duvetyn [a brushed woolen fabric] with a civet collar from Louise Boulanger.” You can see another 1920s dress by Louiseboulanger in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Click here.

“Also from Louise Boulanger comes a dress of bright blue matelassé flared at the foot, banded low on the hip and embroidered in gold on copper at the V neck.”  [The Fashion Model Directory says Louise Boulanger worked for Cheruit until 1927, but the Delineator attributed these designs to her in 1924.]

Doucet

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“Doucet’s characteristic elegance speaks for itself in an evening gown of steel lace over a blue silk slip.  A girdle of blue chenille fringe is clasped with a  motif of diamonds and blue stras. [Stras is a type of artifical jewel.]”  The illustration shows the shoulder drape of the the black dress on the right hanging confusingly in front of the light-colored dress on the left — it does not have a black panel in front! You can read more about Jacques Doucet at Fashion Model Directory; click here.

“The new princess line, flat, beltless and narrow, shows itself to great advantage in a Doucet gown of black crêpe velours embroidered with blue and gold Chinese motifs.”

A Few Observations About These Fashions from  January 1924

  • Skirts are still quite long — only 8 inches from the ground.
  • All the models have short, “bobbed” hair.
  • Most of these designs have strong accents at the hip; only the heavily embroidered  Doucet  gown is a tube.
  • The “princess line” is “new.”
  • Fur adds a note of luxury to all the daytime fashions, either as collars, cuffs, belts, (even coat lining,) or carried as a stole or muff.
  • Soulié has drawn most of the models wearing rather high heels, which means the skirts are very long to still be 8″ above the floor.

9 Comments

Filed under 1920s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hairstyles, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Paris Couturier Designs, December 1926

The latest styles from Paris, December 1926, as described in The Delineator magazine

The latest styles from Paris, December 1926, as described in The Delineator magazine

This is a two-page spread on the latest Paris Fashions of 1926. Coverage of the Couture collections was a regular feature in The Delineator in the 1920s; Butterick Publishing maintained an office in Paris, and used several sketch artists, including Soulié, who also worked for L’Art et la Mode. These illustrations are signed Lages. The designers featured in the article are Paul Poiret, Lucien Lelong, Louiseboulanger, and Molyneux. [Louiseboulanger is always written as one word.] The gowns pictured on these two pages could be purchased in New York: “Models on these two pages imported by Mary Walls.” Mary Walls’ shop was located in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Page 40: “French Designs for the American Season”

Evening frock by Poiret, 1926

Evening frock by Poiret, 1926

Left:  “An evening frock from Paul Poiret is an uneven swirl of black velvet below a sequinned bodice on which multicolored flowers are worked in brilliant shades of rose and blue and green. Ends of Chartreuse velvet fall from the bows at the hip and the hem is faced with silver ribbon.  The Gothic outline of the décolletage is new and interesting.”

Hostess Gown by Lelong, 1926

Hostess Gown by Lelong, 1926

Right: “In a hostess gown designed by Lucien Lelong, arabesques of gold and silver trace a gorgeous pattern on the transparent tissue of the body.  The narrow skirt of black chiffon velvet opens over a panel of gold lamé, and gold and silver ribbon square the hanging sleeve and outline the deep V of the neck.  The Parisienne wears a gown of this type at home and for informal dinners.”

Dolman evening coat, Lelong, 1926

Dolman evening coat, Lelong, 1926

Left:  “Body and sleeve merge into one in the medieval cut of ‘Christmas’, an evening wrap of black chiffon velvet faced with white velvet and trimmed on the collar, sleeves and scarf with clipped white cony [rabbit.]  Furs, shaved or clipped to absolute flatness are new, velvet is smart, and black, in a somewhat florid season, remains the most distinguished of colors. From Lucien Lelong.”

Page 41: “Brilliant Frocks that match a Holiday Mood”

Some 1926 dresses had asymmetrical hems, longer on one side, or some trailing fabric that dipped below the normal hemline. The descriptions below show that some thought them a precursor of lower hemlines, but in fact. skirts got even shorter in the late 1920s, before descending to new lows, along with the stock market, after 1929.

Evening dress with a train at the side, Louiseboulanger, 1926

Evening dress with a train at the side, Louiseboulanger, 1926

Left:  “In trains many prophets see the re-entry of the long skirt and the exit of the knee-length fashion, while others find them only the charming contradiction that is so much more entertaining than the jewel of consistency. Louiseboulanger girdles the slender hips of a sheath frock of violet velvet bound with silver with a great bow of purple velvet placed over a train at the side.”

A sheath dress by Molyneaux, 1926

A sheath dress by Molyneaux, 1926

Above right:  “Captain Molyneux preserves in the heart of Paris the essentially English tradition of evening magnificence. His gowns are almost invariably sheaths of classical simplicity made splendid by fabric, lace, or beads. A frock of gold, green, and red brocade is absolutely untrimmed. A brocade scarf is thrown over the head is looped at the hip and trails behind in a long and graceful train.”

An evening dress with skirt covered with spangles, by Louiseboulanger, 1926

An evening dress with skirt covered with spangles, by Louiseboulanger, 1926

Right:   “Gold metallic ribbons place the waistline of a delightful frock from Louiseboulanger. The skirt is slightly gathered, slightly flared, and entirely covered with long spangles of black and gold which weight it and cause it to sway and undulate in motion. The former are used on the brief skirt, the latter suggest a hip yoke. Models on these two pages imported by Mary Walls.” [The Metropolitan Museum has a gown by Jeanne Lanvin with the label: “Mary Walls/Branch Shop/Waldorf-Astoria/South Lobby/East 45th St./New York”]

Comments Off on Paris Couturier Designs, December 1926

Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs