Haute Couture Becomes Interested

Couturiers expressed mistrust toward the tailored suit. The sober and comfortable appearance of the garment broke with the tradition of the ostentatious elegance of the Parisian houses. Similarly, the Anglo-Saxon influence was treated by the French fashion press with a certain contempt. The unquestionable superiority of London tailors in men's fashion was recognized, but there was firm opposition to any intrusion on their part into the universe of women's clothing. The first couturiers to introduce tailored suits in their collections in the early twentieth century were Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, and Paul Poiret, all creators who contributed to radical transformations in women's fashion. Jackets had a Directoire cut, a reminiscence of the eccentric elegance of the Incroyables. Coats, single-breasted and fitted, were high-waisted and usually made of fabric with broad stripes. However, when Paul Poiret launched the fashion for pencil skirts around 1911, after having liberated the torso from the corset, he imposed a new constraint, contrasting with the functional use of the suit.

Under the influence of the younger generation, from 1910 to 1925, the tailored suit became one of the favored garments of Parisian couture. Jeanne Lanvin, Gabrielle Chanel, and Jean Patou were the most ardent advocates of the new garment. The style of the Parisian suit set the tone for the rest of the world throughout the twentieth century.

Around 1910, the designs of Jeanne Lanvin blended the sporty informality of new men's fashion with youthful and refined elegance. The jacket was now worn open, revealing a simple blouse embellished with lace inserts, with a soft collar and no tie. Chanel, a beginner at the time, presented outfits made of soft jersey with an unfitted waist, large armholes, and short slit skirts facilitating walking. This very avant-garde version, which she had adopted from sports clothing, came together with the style imposed by the war in 1916. For her first advertisement, she chose three flowing suits with very short and flared skirts to show in Vogue.

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