Paul Poiret

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French fashion designer Paul Poiret established his own fashion house in 1903. He was famous for his controversial and flamboyant clothes. He designed creative window displays and threw legendary parties to draw attention to his work, his instinct for marketing and branding was unmatched by any previous designer. In 1909, he was so famous that H.H. Asquith invited him to show his designs at 10 Downing Street. The cheapest garment at the exhibition was 30 guineas, double the annual salary of a scullery maid.

Poiret drew his inspiration mostly from other countries such as Egypt, Morocco and other parts of Africa to name a few. When it came to his famous parties he made all his guests dress in costume to represent these countries, if they did not dress up they were turned away. He even had a leopard amongst his lavish displays.
Poiret's house expanded to encompass furniture, decor, and fragrances in addition to clothing. In 1911 he established the company Parfums De Rosine, named after his eldest daughter. Poiret's name was never linked to the company, but it was effectively the first fragrance launched by a designer.
During World War 1, Poiret left his fashion house to serve the military. When Poiret returned in 1919 the house was near bankruptcy. New designers like Chanel were producing simple, sleek clothes that relied on excellent workmanship. In comparison Poiret's elaborate designs seemed dowdy and poorly manufactured. Although his designs were breathtaking, his constructions were not.

Poiret was suddenly out of fashion, in debt, and lacking support from his business partners, having spent all his money on lavish parties, and in 1929 he was left with no other choice except to close the house of Poiret. After the house had closed its leftover clothes were sold by the kilogram as rags. When Poiret died in 1944, his genius had been forgotten.

De Rosine pays homage to Paul Poiret and the extraordinary life he once lived.

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