Textile designed by Raoul Dufy (French, Le Havre 1877–1953 Forcalquier)
Textile manufactured by Bianchini-Férier (French, founded Lyons, 1888)
Length at CB (a): 51 1/2 in. (130.8 cm)
Length at CB (b): 36 in. (91.4 cm)
Length (c): 55 in. (139.7 cm)
Millia Davenport and Zipporah Fleisher Fund, 2005
Not on view
Among Poiret's many collaborations with artists, the most enduring was with Raoul Dufy. The artist's boldly graphic approach reflected Poiret's personal preference for the kinds of simplified forms with intense coloring produced by his decorative arts company, Atelier Martine. The naive and artisanal effects sought by the designer, which at Atelier Martine were based on designs that were done by young female students, were in the case of Dufy related largely to his use of woodblock printing. After working with Poiret on a number of textile designs that achieved quick success, Dufy was hired away by the luxury silk manufacturer Bianchini-Férier. While there was a brief rift following this decampment, Poiret eventually incorporated Dufy prints in what were to become some of his most, signature creations. In this dress, the "conversational" print by the artist depicts a series of alfresco, vignettes, recalling scenes from the Bois de Boulogne, against a lush millefleur background. Dufy earliest prints appear to be based on the tradition of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century toiles de Jouy. Here, however, with the rich colors and congested patterning in which figure and ground elements have been given equal emphasis, the textile seems closer to Persian miniatures and Mughal lacquer ware. Poiret has treated the printed silk as if he were constructing a tabard, by having a planar bodice with front and back skirt panels open at the sides. Because black silk tulle forms the sleeves of the dress, and an underskirt of silk tulle and silk broadcloth is visible below the dropped waist, the ensemble conveys the effect of a full black tulle and silk underdress with an apron or pinafore-like overpiece. All of these details, the tapestry-like print, the faux-tabard construction, and the low waistline, contribute to the ensemble’s vaguely medieval appearance.