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Written by the man himself in the afterlife of his amazing career, when he was no longer, famous, rich or married. This little book proves to be an excellent medium to witness the time when he almost singlehanded revolutioned fashion through banning the corset, bringing oriental, greek and exotic influences, and being the first fashion designer as we understand the term now.
He goes into great detail into his younger years when he met Mme. Cheruit and the famous J Doucet. Particularly about Chez Doucet, he explains the arrangement of the attelier in the change of century with the vendors, designers, chief of attelier, seamstress, and how the subtleness of this relations goes into the final garment. When some years later he opens his own house, he brings all the time the process, from inspiration to cutting as the components of the final garment. Along appears his friends and acquaintances Iribe, Lepape. And also how he deals with Isadora Duncan, how he met with the Ballet Russes' Bakst. All the time making a point how he influenced them, not the other way around -in here we can have a skeptical eye...
When success came, he opens 'Le parfums Rosine' and the 'Atelier Martine', being the first couturier going into the scent business almost ten years before Chanel. -It exist an extraordinary book on this adventure
Paul Poiret and His Rosine Perfumes
, with hundreds of images-. The 'Martines' were the students of the Atelier, and it was sort of an art school meets interior design training, in here Poiret goes into great detail about how to develop creativity in children toward design.
In every work about Poiret we heard about his ' one thousand and two nights party', but only here we have exact description of the menus, the amenities, the list of guest. The taste for the oriental and the exotic expands into his travels and he goes in detail when he goes to Morocco -as YSL would make many years later- and there some other chapters describing his long tours into United States.
These travels were as a conferencist and he make not only his impression but the actual transcription of some of the lectures, being of particular interest how he reflect in the fashion process and the way he had to foreseen the taste of people, even there at the dawn of fashion: trends and forecasting were important, even though at the end he wasn't able to understand new taste and that was the sign of his fall.
The last part of the book, unfortunately does not give more information about his debacle. He just say in few lines, he is now retired, now divorced, and dedicated to his painting. He is bitter, but that only is apparent in this last chapters. The main book is always light and happy. it has a little section with B&W photographs.
This self bio is part of a little collection the V&A made about fashion designers, Schiaparelli, Dior, Poiret and the sixties' Biba. I think the best are the Dior, and this Poiret's. It is highly recommended if you want to know about the designer, the man, but also as a way to see how they produced the idea of fashion in the beginning of the 20th century.