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Poiret: King of Fashion

May 9–August 5, 2007

Rosine and Martine

In 1911 Poiret expanded his business as a couturier to include perfume and interior design. Naming his perfume company Rosine, after his first daughter, and his interior design business Martine, after his second, Poiret effectively invented the modern concept of "lifestyle marketing."

Poiret's diverse enterprises reflected his belief in the synthesis and harmony of artistic practices. It was a conviction he shared with the Wiener Werkstätte, whose members advocated the notion of Gesamtkunstwerk, or "total work of art." While the Wiener Werkstätte tended to regard design as a means of social engineering and often imposed its own aesthetic preferences on its clients, Poiret felt that the total work of art was less a utopian ideal than the physical expression of a personal business empire applied to the feminine spheres of haute couture, perfumes, and the decorative arts.

Poiret upheld the allure of his Rosine and Martine products by highlighting their originality, uniqueness, and aesthetic qualities. His perfumes, which carried the poetic essence of his couture house, were presented in delicate flacons designed to harmonize with the scents they contained. As he did with his clothing, Poiret worked with artists and craftsmen—including Paul Iribe, Raoul Dufy, Georges Lepape, and, most consistently, Atelier Martine—in the design, packaging, and promotion of his perfumes. In their merging of artistry and enterprise, these products represented miniature masterpieces of early-twentieth-century avant-garde artistic production.