Paul Poiret had been designing clothes, in Paris, France, for nearly a decade before he founded his own House in 1903.
However, the very conservative upper class Edwardian women rejected his style at first. His ideas became more infamous than famous, before gradually creeping into acceptability.
By 1908, a Poiret Haute Couture garment was the height of fashion. He had introduced the highly popular tube sheath (or Directoire) dress!
When most people today think of an Edwardian lady's attire, they are probably picturing something by Poiret. His fashions were very popular amongst the female first class passengers on Titanic for a start.
He redefined what it meant to have a beautiful female form. His vision threw out the harmful S-shaped Health Corset and placed the emphasis on 'straight'. Bottom, hips, stomach, torso and bust should all be in alignment, straight up and down.
The tailoring contributed to this effect. High waist-bands, in the Empire fashions of the early 19th century, made a comeback a century on. They fitted either under the bust or across the mid-riff, rather than actually on the waist.
Some dresses had no waist-band at all. This was a radical departure from the past, as Victorian fashions had been all about the waspish waist. But they had also pushed the hips and bust into the forefront.
Poiret advocated a more tomboyish look, to reflect the greater freedom of spirit of his female customers.
There were still corsets underneath, though the slimmer ladies could get away with not wearing them. In reality, we didn't lose corsets entirely until the 1930s.
Victorian ladies weren't at all fashionable without a 'wasp' waist. That's where the corset came from. They just got tighter and more torturous, as time went on.
Glad that you didn't live then?
I really enjoyed your article, and loved that image with the internal organs under a corset. I never visualized it that way: scary stuff. And yes, no wonder they were fainting all the time! How crazy this whole tight corset thing was. Poiret looks daring with his tube dresses, but as you say, he just picked up the style of a previous era. But then, I'm wondering, when exactly got this corset get to be so tight, what were the influences?
That would absolutely own! We should look up how to contact them and ask about it!
Mythbusters. We must get them on it. :|
Yes, it is utterly horrific to imagine having to wear those corsets; and I'm very glad that trousers came into fashion in the end. I'm wearing my jeans right now.
It's an interesting theory that they were bullet-proof. I can't think who'd volunteer to find out though!
This was really interesting.
I remember reading that during the big s-corset craze women sometimes had their lower ribs removed to help with the size. Horrifying.
I also remember my drama teacher saying when he used to be a union stage manager, he helped make some outfits for women who were prostitutes in some play (I forget which). He made them by hand the old fashioned way. He said they were so tight he honestly wouldn't be surprised if they were a bit bulletproof. I can't imagine trying to live with something like that on me all the time.
I'm super glad those lades were daring enough to try out trousers/pants. I only own one skirt and am glad that's all. Kudos to them.
My friends and I were looking at 15" using a tape measure. You think you know how big 15" is, but it doesn't hit home until you've actually seen it in a circle. My waist is twice that!
Some of my ancestors had a haberdashery shop. They would have been selling these things!
Fascinating. I don't think my ARM would fit in 15 inches....But this is my grandmother's era. I remember her in tight curls and print sundresses. But she must have worn some of these styles too.
I feel quite honoured by that! Thank you for bookmarking this page. <3
What a great wizz! I love it! Saved for future reference :)