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

Costumes de Théâtre by Redfern (1908)

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Exposition à l’Hôtel des Modes. Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1908 via

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Exposition à l’Hôtel des Modes. Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme , 1908 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

Beautiful Belle Epoque Couture by Redfern

Redfern & Sons (later Redfern Ltd), was a British tailoring firm founded by John Redfern (1820-1895) in Cowes on the Isle of Wight that developed into a leading European couture house (active: 1855–1932; 1936–1940). By the early 1890s the business had branches in London, Edinburgh, Paris and New York.

The Paris extension was operated as a couture establishment while its other branches functioned primarily as tailors and importers.

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“Robe de bal en chantilly blanc, incrustée de chantilly noir, bordée de sequins noirs. Au bord du décolleté et dans le bas de la jupe, haut marabout de sequins.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1902 via

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“Robe en crêpe de chine avec incrustation d’angleterre ; devant en tulle plissé ; ceinture liberty brodée de perles fines.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe en tulle et dentelle d’Alençon, laissant entrevoir la taille, ceinte d’un ruban Pompadour.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe avec guirlandes de liserons en paillettes nacrées, sur tulle blanc ; épaulettes en perles fines , guirlande de liserons sur l’épaule gauche.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe en linon blanc brodé. Pélerine avec incrustations de valenciennes ; jupe avec incrustations et volant de valenciennes, monté sur fond Pompadour. Ceinture faite d’un large ruban Pompadour et munie de longs pans.” Photograph from Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via

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“Robe en linon royal et broderie anglaise avec entre deux et volants de valenciennes ; ceinture de taffetas Pompadour.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1904 via

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“Robe en voile blanc ; ceinture en taffetas brodé Pompadour ainsi que l’empiècement en dentelle du corsage”. Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1904 via

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Robe d’après-midi par Redfern 1904 via

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“Robe en velours bois de rose, guirlandes de roses de velours, brodées vieux tons. Grande veste en faille noire tissée de roses de France ombrées vieux tons d’or, garnie de chinchilla.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1906 via

Famous Belle Epoque Actress Eve Lavallière Being Fashionable in “Les Modes”

Ève Lavallière was born at 8 rue Champ-de-Mars in Toulon. Her birth was not desired, and she was placed, up to school age, with a local family of peasants. At school age, however, she was enrolled by her parents in a private school of excellent reputation. After the death of her parents in tragic circumstances, and after running away from home. she arrived, as a teenager, in Paris. She became an actress renowned in the Belle Époque, including the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris.

Later she became a noteworthy Catholic penitent and member of the Secular Franciscan Order.

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Eve Lavallière dressed in Jenny. Les Modes, May 1914 via

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Eve Lavallière in Les Modes, 1902 (dresses for the comedy Les Deux Ecoles) via

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Eve Lavallière in Les Modes, 1902 (dresses for the comedy Les Deux Ecoles) via

Silhouettes Parisiennes, Wonderful Belle Epoque Fashion Images by Freres Neurdein (ca. 1910s)

The brothers Neurdein, Etienne and Louis, had a studio in Paris from 1863 until just before the outbreak of WWI. Etienne Neurdein stayed primarily in Paris, producing local projects, portraits in the studio, and photographing art entries at the Salon de Paris from which many lovely postcards were produced, while his brother Louis traveled widely, spending much of his time in Algeria. Silhouettes Parisiennes was probably produced by Etienne Neurdein.

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

Two Drawings of Louise Chéruit by Paul César Helleu

Madame Louise Chéruit (1866-1955) was among the foremost couturiers of her generation, and one of the first women to control a major French fashion house. Her salon operated in the Place Vendôme in Paris under the name Chéruit from 1906 to 1935.

Chéruit is best remembered today as the subject of a number of portraits by artist Paul César Helleu, with whom she conducted an affair before opening her couture house and for the appearance of her name in two celebrated works of literature, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (1910) and Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930).

Her name is also frequently associated with the fashion photography of Edward Steichen whose favorite model, Marion Morehouse, often wore gowns from the house of Chéruit for Vogue magazine in the 1920s. One particular Steichen image has become iconic: Morehouse in a jet-beaded black net Chéruit dress, first published in 1927.

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Louise Chéruit by  Paul César Helleu (1859-1927)

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« Madame Chéruit », drypoint etching by Paul-César Helleu, reproduced as plate XXIX in: Montesquiou, Robert de (1913), Paul Helleu, Peintre et Graveur, Paris: H. Floury (circa 1900)

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