York's Metropolitan Museum plays host to what is,
surprisingly, the first major retrospective of couturier
Paul Poiret in over three decades. At the onset of the
20th century, Poiret was the undisputed king of fashion,
creating soft, flowing silhouettes, freeing women from
the constraints of Edwardian corsetry, although he
would later impose alternative restrictions with the bra
and the long, narrow hobble skirt. Paul Poiret's fashion
career began in the fashion houses of Doucet and
Worth, before he established his own in 1903. Inspired
by the exoticism of the Ballets Russes and the vivid
colors of the Fauvists, he took fashion far beyond the
atelier, into the realm of art.
A commercial innovator, in 1911 Poiret introduced
fragrance to the house's fashion portfolio, as well as
workshops dedicated to the production of fabrics,
furniture and decorative objects. As Harold Koda, the
curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum's
Costume Institute, explains, "Poiret pioneered a
seductive modernity based on a woman's self-confident
femininity, and envisioned a 'total lifestyle' that extended
from how she dressed and what fragrance she wore to
how she decorated her homeā€”an approach reflected in
the strategies of many of today's fashion houses."

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Poiret: King of Fashion
May 9 through August 5, 2007
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028
T: +1 212 535 7710