Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paul Poiret - 1910

Ah, yes...a coat by Paul Poiret. This sketch of a fashion photograph looks like it is from the height of Poiret's oriental-ism. I've always been a great fan of fashion design from the beginning of the previous century, especially the nineteen-twenties and nineteen-thirties. In College I collected Tom Tierney's books of paper dolls published by Dover for my own reference. Unfortunately his copies of the Erte collections are no longer available, nor are Dover's reprints of fashion catalogs containing Erte's designs. But Dover has continued to publish other designer's works and Poiret is a favorite.

The shape of the coat which is emphasized by the stylized pose of the mannequin is similar to how a robe or kimono might drape, only Poiret has used fairly modern western forms to achieve this with a wide embroidered lapels and a frog clasp.  I suspect the fabric is silk velvet in either brown or avacado green. The sleeves seem to be gathered, as well as the back which seems to gather below the knees, just above the lower edge, creating a unique form that you only see in coats from this time period.

I did a short series of sketches featuring fashion models and clothing back in my college days, although I mostly shared them with close friends. I named the model in each sketch Theo, after my grandmother and sometimes gave them captions as if they were speaking to someone off page. In this sketch I was thinking of my boss at Waldenbooks at the time, so she looks somewhat different to the original model, who I think had a triangular face. Clearly I didn't want to lose the effect of her pose so I redrew the part that went off the page above her right arm.  Her hat looks as if she's wearing a cleaning woman's scarf, but I assure you the original was worth my recording it here.  Too bad pencil smudges.

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