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Cubism and Abstraction

Developments in the art world after the turn of the twentieth century were closely mirrored in design. In 1905, Matisse and other artists introduced brilliantly unrealistic colors into their paintings, prompting critics to call them "wild beasts" (fauves in French). Textile designers, many of whom were painters themselves, did not lag far behind. Cubism and abstraction, as developed by Picasso, Braque, and many others in the following decades, could be instantly recognized in the textile and fashion worlds.

Textile patterns, often created by modernist artists like Raoul Dufy and Paul Iribe, soon appeared with abstract florals; geometric patterns that played with the eye through unexpected juxtapositions; and in the 1920s, exuberant designs that presented views from many angles at once. Dazzling colors were joined by layers of patterning created by the use of metallic threads, sequins, and beads: "collages" that decorated the short "chemise" dresses of "flapper" days and nights.

The silhouette of fashion evolved in the late 1910s and early 20s from the Empire styles promoted by Paul Poiret into a simple columnar body shape topped by an oval head with cropped hair and close-fitting cloche hat, reflecting geometries used by early modernist artists, in particular Fernand Léger and Raymond Duchamp-Villon.




Silk "Robe"

Abstract length
Cubist length Lucien Lelong Coat
Abstract length Wool, twill suit
  Sport suit


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