The French publication Les Modes (1901-1937) was the premiere fashion magazine of the early twentieth century, celebrating fashion as a “Decorative Art as Applied to Women.” Each issue featured the glitterati of French society–actresses and society mavens alike modeled the latest Parisian fashions throughout its pages. The January 1910 issue of Les Modes was no exception.
1910 was a pivotal year for fashion history in that the dramatic S-Curve silhouette of years prior began to give more and more way to the softer, columnar high-waisted style commonly referred to as the “Directoire” silhouette. The high-waisted style had been advocated for years prior by avant-garde couturiers such as Paul Poiret and Lucile Lady Duff Gordon who championed the silhouette to be worn without cumbersome corsetry. It was no easy task to free women from the corset–the restrictive undergarment had dominated women’s fashion for over three hundred years. In this issue of Les Modes, the reader can witness how some designers were still negotiating the two silhouettes, as is evident in the evening gown by Beer or the afternoon dress by Paquin, while other designers had given the Neo-classically inspired Directoire fashion a freer reign, such as the ensembles by Doeuillet and Jeanne Lanvin.