Historical Content

This appropriation of art nouveau styling coincided with the moment in the history of couture when a united business structure was firmly established by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Unrivaled elsewhere in the Western world, Paris couturiers dressed the women of international royal courts and high society including in Japan and tsarist Russia, the wives of the wealthiest international plutocrats, and the great actresses of the Paris stage. Commercial clients already included the grandest department stores at an international level.

The art nouveau "look" was at the cutting edge of modern style. Only the most fashionable wore it in its fullest manifestation, while others preferred moderated versions. These styles were spread internationally through fashion journals, such as Les Modes and down through middle-class oriented magazines such as The Ladies Field and La Mode illustrée. Les Modes of July 1902 featured, for example, an art nouveau ball dress by Maggy Rouff with full-length swirls in silver and diamante, on a straw-colored silk ground trimmed with alençon lace.

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