The Bois de Boulogne by Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1911)

Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894 – 1986) was a French photographer and painter, known for his photographs of automobile races, planes and female Parisian fashion models

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Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, Paris, 1911 via

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Jacques Henri Lartigue, Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, Paris, 1911 via

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Jacques Henri Lartigue, Bois de Boulogne, 1911 © Ministère de la Culture – France / AAJHL via

The First Modern Fashion Photography Shoot: Paul Poiret by Edward Stechein (1911)

In 1911, publisher Lucien Vogel dared photographer Edward Steichen to promote fashion as a fine art in his work. Steichen responded by snapping photos of gowns designed by leading French fashion designer Paul Poiret, hauntingly backlit and shot at inventive angles.

The photographs were published in the April 1911 issue of the magazine Art et Décoration. According to historian Jesse Alexander, the occasion is:

“now considered to be the first ever modern fashion photography shoot,”

The garments were imaged as much for their artistic quality as their formal appearance

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

Revolutionary Belle Epoque Fashion: Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix

Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix has been neglected by fashion historians. She inherited her couture house from her mother Mme. Margaine, in 1899. The following year she changed the name to Margaine-Lacroix.

She influenced the new slender line of fashion. She was famous for her revolutionary corsetless dresses and her ground-breaking front-lacing corsets. In the 1900s, Paris was the fashion capital of the world. Couturiers routinely sent mannequins to the racecourse, wearing their latest designs. Her models caused a sensation at Longchamp in 1908.

Three mannequins walked onto the racecourse dressed in blue, white and havane brown creations by Margaine-Lacroix. According to newspapers, spectators called the three women a “monstrosity”, accused them of being semi-naked and showing revolting décolletage .

However, soon women everywhere were wearing dresses after Margaine-Lacroix’s design.

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In the Spring of 1908, three women walked onto the Longchamp racecourse in Paris and caused a scandal by the semi-naked clothes they were wearing via

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Longchamp racecourse, Paris 1908 via

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Tanagréenne back drape on Sylphide dress by Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix. Here is an example of her slender, corsetless line, the robe-tanagréenne. It is worn by her favourite model, who small bust and simple hairstyle were avant-garde for the time and contrasted strongly with the generally accepted ideals of fashionable feminine beauty in the first decade of the twentieth-century, 1908 via

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Sylphide dress with Tanagréenne back drape by Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix, 1908 via

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Margaine-Lacroix mannequins pictured in the Parc de Vincennes in March 1910, wearing the new jupe-culotte – an early version of trousers via

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March 1910. Margaine-Lacroix mannequins in the new jupe-culotte via

Amazing Vintage Portraits by Madame d’Ora (1910s-1920s)

Dora Philippine Kallmus (1881 – October 28, 1963) was an Austrian-Jewish fashion and portrait photographer who went by the name Madame D’ora. Dora, born in Vienna in 1881, came from a respected family of Jewish lawyers. In 1905 she was the first woman to be admitted to theory courses at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt. That same year she became a member of the Vienna Photographic Society. She trained at Nicola Perscheid’s studio in Berlin, where she became friends with his assistant Arthur Benda. In 1907 she opened a photography studio with Benda in Vienna called the Benda-D’Ora Studio. What followed was  a distinguished career as a salon photographer. In 1925, she moved her atelier to Paris, and during the 30s and 40s rose to international prominence through society and high fashion photography. Both her er studios in Vienna and Paris became fashionable meeting places for the cultural and intellectual elite. In Vienna she had  become extremely popular among the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy.

Her subjects included intellectuals, dancers, actors, painters, and writers, fx.  Josephine Baker, Tamara de Lempicka, Maurice Chevalier, Colette, Niddy Impekoven. These vibrant portraits of twentieth-century artists and intellectuals remain important testaments to European cultural life at the turn of the century and beyond.

According to Jewish Women Encyclopedia D’Ora was one of the first photographers to focus on the emerging areas of modern, expressive dance and fashion, particularly after 1920, when fashion photographs started to replace drawings in magazines. While her photographic technique was not radical, her avant-garde subject matter was a risky choice. D’Ora’s photographs captured her clients’ individuality with new, natural positions in contrast to stiff, old-fashioned poses. D’Ora’s achievements also paved the way for other European women’s careers in photography, an area in which many Jewish women in particular found success.

When the Germans invaded France, Madame D’ora fled to a convent in the country side.  Dora returned to France in 1946 and re-opened the studio.

In 1959 she was involved in a serious traffic accident that left her an invalid. She died in Frohnleiten, Steiermark, Austria, in 1963.

Marie Conte by Madame d’Ora

Dora Kallmus (Madame d’Ora) & Arthur Benda - Fashion study, Vienna c.1920.

Fashion study by Madame d’Ora & Arthur Benda. Vienna, ca 1920

Portrait of an unknown lady by Madame d’Ora, 1925

Early 20th Century Couture by Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949)

Spanish-born artist and designer Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949) was active in Italy, where he established a textile workshop and a commercial silk printing factory. The multi-tasked artist spent most of his life in Venice where he was an architect, couturier, inventor and painter.

Working in the early 20th century, Fortuny’s gowns were especially popular among the avant garde women of ’20s and ’30s who were seeking both freedom of movement and a hint of exoticism in their wardrobe.

Fortuny rebelled against the style lines that were popular during his time period and created the Delphos gown, a shift dress made of finely pleated silk weighed down by glass beads that held its shape and flowed on the body. The pleating that he used was all done by hand and no one has been able to recreate pleating that is as fine as his or has held its shape like his dresses have for many years. He also manufactured his own dyes and pigments for his fabrics using ancient methods. With these dyes he began printing on velvets and silks and dyed them using a press that he invented with wooden blocks that he engraved the pattern onto. His dresses are seen as fine works of art today and many survive, still pleated, in museums and many people’s personal collections.

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Mrs. William Wetmore Modeling a Delphos Gown, Photograph by Lusha Nelson. Originally published in Vogue, December 15, 1935. via

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George Platt Lynes, Mai-Mai Sze, Dress by Mariano Fortuny, 1934 via

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Mariano Fortuny, Delphos Gown, 1920s via

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Mariano Fortuny, Lillian Gish in Delphos Gown, 1910s via

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Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi wearing an Eleanora dress, 1920s via

A Collection of Photos Feat. Belle Epoque Dresses by Jeanne Paquin

Jeanne Paquin (1869 – 1936) was a leading French fashion designer, who created alongside her husband, Isidore Paquin, an influential couture business. In 1890 the couple opened Maison de Couture Rue de la Paix in Paris, close to the celebrated House of Worth.

The Maison Paquin quickly became known for its eighteenth century-inspired pastel evening dresses and tailored day dresses, as well as for its numerous publicity stunts, including organizing fashion parades to promote her new models and sending her models to operas and races in order to show off her designs. Jeanne Paquin withdrew from the House in 1920. She was a beautiful woman and a style icon herself, who imagined youthful and exquisite garments

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Jeanne Paquin, 1910 via

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Jeanne Paquin, 1910 via

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Jeanne Paquin. Evening gown. Reutlinger, Les Modes May 1902 via

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Jeanne Paquin. Afternoon dress by Paquin. Reutlinger, Les Modes May 1902 via

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Jeanne Paquin. Tailored suits by Paquin. Félix, Les Modes June 1909 via