In New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a wonderful show called Poiret, King of Fashion. It’s on now until the 5th of August. If you are visiting NYC, I highly suggest taking it in. Mom, Julia and I went a few weeks ago for a quick visit and loved it. Besides the beautiful clothing, the sets the Met staged them on were phenomenal. Jean-Hugues de Chatillon, a scenographer for the Paris opera and ballet, hand-painted them and they really added to the beauty of the show.
Paul Poiret was a fashion designer from the beginning of the twentieth century. They claim he was the first designer to work with rectangles of fabric and turn it into fashion. Poiret did take some amazing fabrics in silk, wool, and linen and turn them into works of art. He is credited with inventing the sheath dress. Many of the coats and dresses were covered in intricate embroideries done in the embroidery ateliers of Paris. The New Yorker has a great article by Judith Thurman and slide show if you can't see the exhibit in person. Here's another fun website on Poiret.
The fabrics steal the show here. Without beautiful fabrics, incredible clothing wouldn’t exist. Raoul Dufy, an artist whose work I have long admired, worked with Poiret as a fabric designer. His work is unmistakable. Dufy worked in many mediums including painting, watercolors, engravings, ceramics, murals, stage set design, and fabric design.
Whenever I visit a show like this, I always return inspired. Although the demands on my time do not often allow it, I think it is fun to do a little art just after the visit to see what I turn out. I’m trying to inspire Julia in this way too. One afternoon back here at home, we sat down and did some painting and drawing. I dragged out my massive art book on Dufy by Dora Perez-Tibi to jog my memory of his work. Then I tried to show Julia how you can take one element in someone else’s work and change it into your own work - like the vase in the Dufy painting below. (All the photos except my paintings are from this fabulous book.)
She told me this was copying and then I explained that the paintings were being “inspired” by the other person’s work. She proceeded to do some cute little Beatrix Potter inspired Peter Rabbit paintings. I'll try to find them and post them another day.
These are the quick little paintings I did. The first was an experiment with some water soluble crayons and pencils. Although I didn’t enjoy working with them, after the paper dried, it didn’t look half bad. I added some black lines later to sharpen the design.
This second one was Julia’s request. She said the first didn’t look like a “Kristin Nicholas” piece and that I needed to re-do it. She was happier with these colors.