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
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.