Artwork of the week for Sept. 7, 2009


Paul Poiret
Costume (Fancy Dress), 1911

French couturier Paul Poiret couldn’t sew, yet he was probably one of the most influential and revolutionary fashion designers of the 20th century. Two years ago, the Met’s costume institute featured an exhibition on Poiret’s work. If you ever had any doubt about Fashion as Art, “Poiret: King of Fashion” would have wiped it away.

This exotic ensemble was probably Worn to “The Thousand and Second Night” Party, one of Poiret’s famous fancy costume balls. The party’s theme alluded the story of Scheherazade and 1001 Arabian Nights and was partially motivated by the success of the Ballet Russe’s performance of “Scheherazade” a year earlier.

For more discussion about Poiret and his clothing the best place to go is here:{0DC3D00F-4611-4F91-8DC2-CC3C1A5C48D5}


2 thoughts on “Artwork of the week for Sept. 7, 2009

  1. Hi, Kathleen – I came over to your blog to let you know I’ve written another anti-Janeite rant (“Jane Austen and the Jackals”) on my blog, that I thought you might enjoy. I’m very sorry to hear about your accident and hope your ankle and pocketbook both heal quickly!

    Diana Birchall,

  2. Thanks Diana! (my pocketbook is always a work in progress, my ankle is pretty much back to high-heel shape)
    And thanks for bringing me back round to your blog. I love reading all your insights into the current literature on Austen.
    It’s hard to decide whether or not subtexters’ readings have a legitimate place in literary crit/analysis. When it comes to Austen and 18th/19th c. novels, i’m more interested in what the author has written, rather than what can be concocted from what isn’t. Austen’s satire is very much about laying bare the realities of her society. Are affairs and illegitimate children part of that reality? Of course, but are they Austen’s concern? Doesn’t seem like it. In this post-Freudian age, art historians are always looking for the hidden sexuality in a painting (even in Medieval paintings of the Virgin Mary!) so it’s something I’m very used to, but always have my reservations about.
    And, I totally want to get my hands on James Austen’s poetry!

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