Paul Poiret At The Met

Although I do not claim anything close to the knowledge of the expert Kalen Hughes, I love clothing, and the history of clothing is a continuing fascination for me. I like art that is useful, whether it’s Heywood-Wakefield furniture, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, or a Christian Lacroix gown. I remember back when I read Barbara Cartland, she had a book where her heroine was taken to France and given an entire wardrobe from the house of Charles Frederick Worth, who’s called the “father of haute couture.” This week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened an exhibit dedicated to Paul Poiret, who is credited for inventing the modern brassiere, and for his luxurious Art Deco and Oriental designs. I could look at his clothes all day. Anyway, I am planning to take a precious day and make a visit to the Met so I can see the exhibit myself (Reason #794 I love living in New York: Museums.).

One of the reasons the Regency appeals so much to me is the clothing–the high-waisted gowns, flowing, gauzy fabrics, and classical design. That’s the shallow reason I don’t think I could ever write a Victorian novel–while the period is fantastic for innovation, I really don’t like the fashion that much. Hugh skirts and hoops and boning and corsets and ridiculous hats do not float my boat as much as the Grecian influence of the earlier times.

Do you have a favorite designer? A favorite fashion icon? How about a favorite period in fashion?


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15 years ago

I agree with Megan as to why I prefer the Regency setting to the Victorian: it’s the esthetics. Whenever I think of Regency I think of slim silhouettes (much like the drawings shown here although I know they are from a century later), light colors, and classic influences. When I think of the Victorian era, I think of dark wood, flocked red wallpaper, overly decorated clothing, and (quite possibly the biggest turnoff) center-parted hair and muttonchop whiskers on men.

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

I saw some pics in Vogue about the Poiret exhibit, and am so jealous that you are going! (Plus I saw pics of badly dressed celebs at the Costume Institute Ball on Go Fug Yourself, but that’s a different story…) Such beautiful, artistic, innovative clothes.

Somehow I love the elaborate looks of Georgian clothes (even the giant hats!) but not so much mid-Victorian. I also love the 1920s and Chanel.

Megan Frampton
15 years ago

I loved the GFY pics! Can you believe what Kirsten Dunst wore?!?

I love Chanel too. Plus she and I have the same birthday.

Pam Rosenthal
15 years ago

OK, that clinches it. I’ve got to go to NY this summer.

The designer whom I’ve loved the most has been Givenchy, starting with his clothes for the famous fashion shoot sequence in Funny Face.

Some of your period gowns remind me of that sequence, Megan.

15 years ago

I am so jealous! I too drooled with envy over the article on this month’s Vogue, my eyes narrowed over bribing my aunt to go in my stead.

Pam–speaking of Givenchy, have you seen Audrey H in “How to Steal A Million”? The clothes he designed for her in that movie are absolutely divine!

I have a thing for the 1780s and the 1890s, and more recently, the glamor of the 30s and the mod look of the 60s. And of course Chanel reigns in my book, as does Balenciaga and early Dior.

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Looks like there are no fans of the cage crinoline here. 🙂

Megan, I hope you’ll blog about your visit to the Met, with tons of pictures.

Ah, another fan of GFY. They have the most fun commentary on the most outrageous outfits. Fashion mistakes I can understand and empathize with. Monumental fashion failures mystify me, hence my fascination with GFY, I suppose.

Completely off topic…

We’re watching season one of Bertie and Jeeves on DVD, and I had pipe up and tell our dear Bertie how very much I enjoy his namesake’s shows. I’d forgotten how fabulously funny Wodehouse can be. And that Jeeves–positively Machiavellian. Dear Bertie, if you don’t already have a trusted valet, I would be most cautious in going about the business of employing one.

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

LOL, Megan! I don’t understand Dunst’s dress at all. Did she just wrap herself in several yards of blue satin and call it a day? Maybe I’ll try that for the RWA awards ceremony this summer…

Keira, I LOVE the Jeeves and Wooster series! Especially when Bertie sings. Have you seen the episode with the costume ball and the policeman’s helmet yet??

Bertram St James
15 years ago

We’re watching season one of Bertie and Jeeves on DVD, and I had pipe up and tell our dear Bertie how very much I enjoy his namesake’s shows.

Oh, more Tele-Vision! How divine!

No, Mme. Soleore, I had not ever heard of this other Bertie. I will have to watch his show. Or if he is a Movie, perhaps my landlady will add him to her Net-Flicks queue for me.

Dear Bertie, if you don’t already have a trusted valet, I would be most cautious in going about the business of employing one.

I had the perfect man two hundred years ago. Absolutely spot-on — by which, of course, I mean spot-off. But I fear I left him behind in The Past.

True, I have not yet found his equal. When I try to hire a valet now, they begin by demanding the keys to my vehicle, which I think rather forward of them.

So I am mostly making do with a hedgehog. But as he is an estimable hedgehog, very few can tell the difference.

Ever your servant,

Bertie the Beau

Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Amanda asked, “Have you seen the episode with the costume ball and the policeman’s helmet yet??”

Oh, yes! 🙂 🙂 And his songs are hilarious. “La, la, la-la, la, la, something else…”

Bertie: We got the DVDs from Netflix. Er, does your estimable hedgehog have a name? And how, exactly, does he help you?

Cara King
15 years ago

I’m sorry, Bertie, but you’re using a hedgehog as a valet???

I’m with Keira on this one. How does that work? Doesn’t he leave holes in your clothes??? Can he even pick up the iron?

Cara, confused

Bertram St James
15 years ago

Ah, Miladies Soleore and King, a gentleman never enquires into his valet’s professional secrets. If a gentleman’s gentleman can bring his clothes to perfection, he ought not to reason why, but instead he should just say “thank you” and not ask how a hedgehog irons or cleans or polishes.

Though imagine his prickly bits are good for sewing.

Yr Obt Svt,

Bertie the Beau

15 years ago

Well, I’m glad the hedgehog is serving a useful purpose, Bertie. But I almost broke an ankle in one of the holes he’s been digging under the kitchen floor.


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