Paul Poiret, self titled the King of Fashion, (1879-1944) was another contemporary designer of his time who also invested in self-promotion to make a name for himself and his work. Poiret developed a sharply refined marketing strategy that called for promoting his dresses and other fashionable products as works of art, while presenting himself as an inspired artist and patron of the arts. “I am not commercial… Ladies to me for a gown as they go to a distinguished painter to get their portrait put on canvas. I am an artist, not a dressmaker.” Paul Poiret, 1913


In his autobiography Poiret quoted: “I did not wait for my success to grow by itself. I worked like a demon to increase it, and everything that could stimulate it seemed good to me.” One of the ways he did this was by choosing to name his clothes instead of the customary practice of using numbers to arrange a collection. An example includes the “lampshade” tunic being one of his most famous designs. Poiret was refreshingly innovative in his approach to design, restoring the artist as an important and creative force in fashion.


Paul Poiret’s “Lampshade” Tunic


Further reading:

Paul Poiret – King of Fashion

Voguepedia: Paul Poiret

Some of my favourite looks of Poiret:

h2_1983.8a,b spivy5-16-07-11

Fancy dress costume, 1911
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Seafoam green silk gauze, silver lamé, blue foil and blue and silver coiled cellophane cord appliqué, and blue, silver, coral, pink, and turquoise cellulose beading; L. (a) 50 1/4 in. (127.6 cm)
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Trust Gift, 1983 (1983.8a,b)


Ensemble, 1913
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Ivory silk damask, ivory silk net, and ivory China silk with rhinestone trim; ivory silk net with green and black silk gauze, applied tape and rhinestone trim; green and black silk gauze headdress with strands of rhinestones; ivory silk damask shoes; L. at CB (a) 52 in. (132.1 cm)
Paul D. Schurgot Foundation Fund, 2005 (2005.193a–g)

For more looks featured at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Paul Poiret (1879–1944)