Online Exhibition
Fashion and ArtThe Dressmakers' Shop
1910's The Exotic Peasant Art Cubism Art Deco Classicism Streamlining Sportswear Accessories
The Exotic: Designers in Search of Elegance in the World Beyond Europe

In the 1920s, European and American artists and designers looked to "exotic" cultures and distant eras for opulence and mystery, as well as novelty, in design. The cultures of China, Persia, Ancient Egypt, and Ottoman Turkey had long histories as sources for Western design. Recognizable, often stereotypic motifs and patterns were repeated across many media, including fashion and textile design. With the opening of Japan to the West in the mid-19th century, Western artists began to incorporate both the underlying theories of Japanese art and its purely decorative elements into their work. Styles based on Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Persian, and Egyptian art all fell into and out of fashion, sometimes brought to favor by specific events, such as couturier Paul Poiret's "Arabian Nights" party of 1911, or the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922. Designers often combined motifs from disparate cultures into vaguely "Eastern" patterns.





Chinese motif length Japonist dress Robe with tassel
style silk Beaded bird "Snakeskin" length
Triangle pattern length

"Persian" coat

African motif "Robe"
Islands motif length Silk, metallic
length Silk and net dress
Sequined "Robe" Rodier silk Weeping Willow
  Silk length with tigers  


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