Sunday, 14 November 2010


Giorgio Armani sent typically sleek and sophisticated ensembles down the catwalk back in September for the SS2011 collection; nothing too amazing, but look 17 certainly caught my eye. The silhouette reminded me immediately of the 1916 costume below, designed by Percy Anderson, worn by Patricia Olive. Dramatic pagoda tiers over harem pants may not be the most flattering or sensible silhouette, but it sure is enchanting.

Designers in the early years of the 20th century were captivated by the allure of the Far and Middle East. Costumes designed for stage performances of Arabian Nights tales and the Ballets Russes inspired fashion designers of the time, most notably Poiret, who beautifully translated exotic fabrics, cuts and patterns into European tastes. All the examples below are costumes designed for the stage or a party, however the layered silhouette is typical of the era and would have been worn by the most fashion-forward of ladies, albeit in a watered down manner.

I thought I had far more examples of this fabulous silhouette, but alas not. I'm being rather pedantic in not including Poirets lampshade tunic silhouette, which is very similar, but without the distinctive tiers of the pagoda shape. If you have any images to contribute, then please do share!

Chu Chin Chow costume, 1916

Pagoda costume 1914, image from Costumes Parisienes

Paul Poiret costume - 1911

images from and


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