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Silk crepe and chiffon: embellished with glass beads
European, 1911-14

In 1908 and 1909 Serge Diagalev’s Ballet Russes shook the fashionable Parisian world. Leon Bakst designed the sets and Costumes for these productions, drawing liberally on Middle Eastern opulence and Russian folk imagery. Orientalism gripped Paris and the fashion designer who epitomized this oriental fervor was Paul Poiret. Poiret coupled the columnar silhouette and raised “empire” waistline with tunics, harem pants, turbans and cloaks suggestive of a generic Oriental luxury. He credited himself as freeing women from the confines of a corset molding them into curves by offering them this elongated line and freely flowing drapery rather than fitted bodices.

This gown copies most of the attributes of that Parisian style – the slim skirt, the slit overtunic that becomes a train, and the beaded tassels add the touch of Orientalism.

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