Amazing Belle Epoque Photos by Henri Manuel

Henri Manuel (1874 – 1947 was a Parisian photographer who served as the official photographer of the French government from 1914 to 1944.

In 1900, Manuel opened a portrait studio in Paris with his brother Gaston, which specialised in portraitphotography. Manuel quickly became renowned as a photographer of people from the worlds of politics, art and sports, as well as a photographer of art and architecture. Soon his portraits were used by news agencies, and in 1910 Manuel’s studio began providing a commercial service to news agencies for photographs known as “l’Agence universelle de reportage Henri Manuel”.

The studio became the largest photographic studio in Paris and a leading centre where young aspiring photographers such as Thérèse Bonney might go to work.

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Sarah Bernhardt by Henri Manuel via

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Genevieve Lantelme by Henri Manuel via

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Régina Badet by Henri Manuel, c. 1910 via

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Marie Curie in her laboratoire, 1912 via

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Denise Poiret by Henri Manuel, 1910s via

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Colette by Henri Manuel, 1900s via

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Fashion photograph by Henri Manuel, 1895 via

Early 20th Century Fashion & Design by Paul Poiret (1879–1944)

Paul Poiret (1879 – 1944) became a legendary French Couturier. His contributions to twentieth-century fashion have been likened to Picasso’s contributions to twentieth-century art. Poiret dominated Belle Epoque fashion and reshaped women’s silhouettes by liberating them from constricting corsets and popularising the high waist. From abolishing the corset he went further with hobble skirts, “harem” pantaloons, and “lampshade” tunics, using the fabulous soirées he threw in his garden to promote such whimsies. His most famous soirée was The Thousand and Second Night party he threw in 1911. Unfortunately post war Europe and the public were not akin or sympathetic to Poiret’s style and he closed his house, heavy in debt, in 1929.

He was employed at the house of Worth but did not continue there for long. On the 1st September, 1904 he opened his own establishment at 5 Rue Auber. Between 1904-1924 he irrevocably changed the feminine form with his new fashion designs.  Poiret’s major contribution to fashion was his development of an approach to dressmaking centered on draping, a radical departure from the tailoring and pattern-making of the past. He dismissed the use of corsets, he eliminated layered petticoats, was influenced by orientalism and he introduced the first modern straight lined dress. He also was the first designer to commercialise his own perfumes, launching a now standard marketing concept. He is also quoted to have said:

“My wife is the inspiration for all my creations; she is the expression of all my ideals.”

His wife, Denise, was his muse, creative director of the fashion house, and his favorite model. However, they divorced less than amicably in 1928 (Time reported: “M. Poiret charged that his wife’s attitude was injurious; Mme Poiret counter charged that her husband was cruel”).

Denise, Mme. Poiret

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Paul Poiret Studio, 1910’s

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Paul Poiret’s studio

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Paul Poiret’s costume party

Paul Poiret, 1925.

Paul Poiret, 1925

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Paul Poiret, “Amphitrite” Cape, textile designe by Raoul Dufy, 1926

Paul Poiret, 1927