THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION

1. Read and translate the text. What is the main idea of the text?

2. Find unknown terms and words in the text and give their translations?

While under the Second Empire Worth was the uncontested master of fashion, so much so that he has remained the symbol of the period's elegance, leaving his mark on the sumptuous toilettes that were worn almost until his death in 1897, a whole constellation of couturiers shared a well-earned renown after the last years of the nineteenth century.

Their names have come down to us for various reasons, but we shall limit ourselves to THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION mentioning the few who transformed costume between 1890 and 1914.

Redfern, an English tailor with shops in London and Paris, deserves the credit for the introduction of the women’s tailored suit after 1885. In the early years of the twentieth cen­tury, of the “walking suit” whose skirt, reaching just to the ground, was convenient for outdoor pursuits; and lastly, the 'tailored coat', inspired by the austere cut of men's coats. He also successfully designed theatrical costumes for celebrated actresses.

Another magician made his appearance: Jacques Doucet, a neighbour of Worth, in the same house in the rue de la THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION Paix where in 1824 his grandfather had opened a milliner's shop. Doucet was to reveal himself the most feminine of couturiers, with a preference for delicate, airy toilettes, in which lace and pale silk crêpes transposed the palettes of his favourite eight­eenth-century painters. He dressed Society women and the demi-mondeas well as prominent actresses.

In 1907 Doucet's fashion house acquired a young dress de­signer, Mme Madeleine Vionnet, who was already experiment­ing with the bias cut which was to have a triumphal success after the First World War. From her very first collection THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION with Doucet she appeared as a revolutionary, presenting manne­quins barefoot and 'in their skin', which meant without corsets.

From 1918 to 1939 she was one of the great names of Parisian couture, not only for her accomplished techniques and her faultless handling of fabrics, but also because of her inborn sense of how to enhance her client's femininity and the harmony and balance of her creations.

In the first years of the century fur finally acquired the im­portance it has since kept, after serving merely as a trimming. The disappearance of bustles and balloon sleeves made it possible to use fur THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION for jackets and coats innovations introduced by Révillon, which he constantly varied and perfected.

In 1909, in one of the returns to favour which had occurred in each century since the Middle Ages, supported this time by music and dance, the East again invaded the Western World, with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.In Paris one couturier was al­ready bringing colour to the aid of personality in clothing - Paul Poiret. Paul Poiret who had begun as a young designer with Worth, had opened a small fashion house in 1904 and embarked on striking experiments. He had revolutionized THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION the range of colours used in women's clothing, replacing pale, evanes­cent tones with deep violet, vibrant red, warm orange and bright greens and blues which made everything sing. Poiret also created the turban hobble gowns or skirts with small hoops, sultana skirts,sumptuous tunics, heavy capes covered with fringes and tassels, cockades of mul­ticoloured feathers and shimmering coils of pearls under white fox stoles. His ideas are immortalized in Iribe's album Les Robes de Paul Poiret,which appeared in 1908, and in the ap­pealing Les Choses de Paul Poiret,produced in 1911 by Georges Lepape who THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION for twenty-five years was to create the covers of Vogue.He boldly asked the painter Dufy for textile designs, and also invented the first couturier's perfume: Rosine.

Beside these names, symbols of a whole period, others brought less publicized, but no less important innovations: the most representative, Mme Paquin who, like Worth, loved sump­tuous gowns, was the first to think of sending several manne­quins to the races, all presenting the same gown. She was the first French designer to open branches outside France, first in London, then in Buenos Aires and Madrid.

From our distance in time THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION, we can trace two trends in the years before 1914. On the one hand, there was the new orien­talism which showed itself in vibrant tones and bold contrasts. It sheathed women's bodies in narrow, soft tubes and crowned lacquered hair with turbans and aigrettes. Full-pleated capes wrapped women in the evening. The sinuous silhouette of these elongated creatures seemed to move in a perpetual tango, like the symbol of a moving line.

Other designers used consummate skill to renew the Art Nouveauof the 1900 period. Textiles were soft and clinging, adorned with brilliant embroideries and transparent THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION lace. This style remained the favourite of women frightened by boldness, who were happier to accept new fashions when they did not break with the past.

These two tendencies existed side by side, and despite their opposition, for those who knew them they still remain the symbol of the elegance of a lost world.

3. Answer the following questions:

1. Was Charles Frederick Worth the first to employ the principles of design?

2. What are the features of Redfern’s style?

3. Who was the most feminine of couturiers in 1824?

4. Was Mm. Madeleine Vionnet one of the great names of Parisian couture from 1918 to 1939? Why?

5. How THE GREAT MASTERS OF FASHION did Paul Poiret become the court designer?


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