Designer Paul Poiret French

Not on view

Two related dresses, ‘La Rosière’ (virtuous young girl) and 'Le Butard' (after Poiret's retreat, the Pavillon de Butard in La Celle-Saint-Cloud), are from the spring collections of 1911 and 1912, respectively. Inspired by Directoire gowns, they also relate to the Romantic styles of the 1810s-20s. Rather than the deliberate classicizing details of the Directoire and Empire, however, the dresses allude to the Arcadian rusticity of the period. As in many of Poiret's designs, a color or motif, here a binding of pink bias tape, introduced in one season is elaborated on in a later collection.

‘Rosière’ is shown with a reproduction underskirt. Originally, its long overtunic would have been paired with a similar underdress, perhaps in the same pink linen mull as its trim. In the case of ‘Butard,’ a photograph of Denise Poiret (perhaps on the grounds of the Pavillon de Butard) establishes the lank silhouette of the design. Apparently worn without a petticoat, the gathered skirt falls into a body-skimming line that obliterates the natural waist. Although they are both in the Directoire Revival style, the dresses are not fitted over the bust in the fashion promoted by Poiret in his earlier collections. Instead, the gently gathered handkerchief linen introduces a greater naturalism to the shape of the bust, while retaining the high waistline and stemlike silhouette preferred by the designer.

Unlike some of Poiret's evening gowns and outerwear, these day dresses conformed to prevailing traditions of dressmaking. With their unfitted appearance, the structural detailing of the dresses is confined to the bodice and sleeves. In a sense, they are shirtwaists, with all the simplicity, prim functionality, and naive romanticism that form suggests.

Butard, Paul Poiret (French, Paris 1879–1944 Paris), a, b) linen, French

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