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Europeana Fashion Focus: ‘Évêque’ ensemble, designed by Paul Poiret, 1907

‘Evêque’ Ensemble by Paul Poiret, 1907. Courtesy Les Arts Décoratifs, all rights reserved.

‘Evêque’ Ensemble by Paul Poiret, 1907. Courtesy Les Arts Décoratifs, all rights reserved.

The outfit is a summer ensemble composed by a dress and a bodice. The dress is made in linen and cretonne; it was designed in 1907 by french couturier Paul Poiret. The french word ‘évêque’ means ‘bishop’, recalling the proportions and overall look of the cassock used by members of the clergy.

The bodice is white, with small pleats on the front and flouncy sleeves that narrow from under the elbow to the wrist, and also presents some pleats. The skirt is composed by a belt, a first part with vertical stripes and a second with horizontal stripes, that hits the floor; the textile is printed with a particular technique, called planche de bois, which consists of a printing with a wooden board carved with the motif.

In 1907, Poiret launched the ‘colonne’ line, beginning his experimentations in alternatives to the current proposals for women clothing. The designs belonging to this line were characterised by a long and straight skirt, to which was attached a belt in gross grain; this belt was not only an aesthetic choice, but allowed to wear the dress without the need of a corset. In fact, in his autobiography En Habillant L’Epoque, the couturier declared to have ‘freed women from the tyranny of the corset’.

The object is part of Les Arts Decoratifs Archive. Take a closer look on the Europeana fashion portal.

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