|racontées par Paul Iribe.
Paris : Se trouve ... chez Paul Poiret, couturier, .
 leaves (2 folded) : all col. ill. ; 33 cm.
TT505 .P6 I75 1908 F
Paul Poiret’s dresses alone would have established him as the most important fashion designer of the early twentieth century. They were a remarkable break from the conventions of the nineteenth century, absent as they were of the formerly requisite corsets and petticoats. The silhouettes were free-flowing, the fabrics often inspired by the Far East.
More than this, however, Poiret reenvisioned fashion’s place in both art and commerce. As a courtier, he fostered a social circle in which his haute couture designs mingled with the painted and sculpted works of his comrades Constantin Brancusi, Robert Delaunay, Raoul Dufy, and Henri Matisse, among others. As he was an avid collector of these artists’ work, so several artists, in turn, used his designs as their own subjects. Man Ray and Edward Steichen, for instance, both created several portraits featuring Poiret’s garments. Yet Poiret balanced this move toward high art with the crafting of a widely appealing commercial image, in which he marketed his dresses (including carefully regulated reproductions of couture originals) alongside his own line of perfumes and in the context of complementary home décor.
Poiret promoted this balance of art and commerce most famously in his expensively produced publicity albums, the first of which was Les Robes De Paul Poiret (1908), illustrated by the young artist Paul Iribe. In this first album, Iribe presented Poiret’s garments (hand-stenciled in labor-intensive pochoir—a rare method in fashion illustration) as worn by expressive, social women in spare yet opulent, Art Nouveau interiors. This animated attitude was a new approach for the until-then stiffly composed fashion plate; its effect is still evident in fashion photography today. Poiret’s distribution of the album for free to chosen clients was an entirely innovative marketing strategy, meant to present the designs as representative of a lifestyle, an all-encompassing look. Les Robes De Paul Poiret is the designer’s attempt at encapsulating fashion as he saw it: as the keystone of a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk.