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Rate the Dress: Doucet does Cubism

Doucet does Cubism

It’s Rate the Dress time!  This week we move from exoticism to modernism.  How will the transition go?

Last week: an 1840s evening gown with Ottoman-esque embroidery

Not only did most of you like last week’s 1840s gold-& floral embroidered evening gown, but the comments unearthed lots of fascinating information about it, and Ottoman inspired embroidery.  Go have a read of them!

There were a few niggles about the ‘clunky’ gold trim down the front of the dress, so which brought the rating down a wee bit.

The total: 8.1 out of 10

Not too bad!

This week: an early ’20s Doucet ensemble

We usually associate Doucet with his frothy Edwardian creations, but he was designing well into the 1920s.  His garments continued to change with, and reflect the times, while always linking back to the same passion.

Doucet, above all, was an art connoisseur.  His fashion creations were influenced and inspired by his love of art.  He continued to keep abreast of the latest innovations in art, and particularly loved Cubism.  He bought directly from artists such as Picasso, and owned an amazing collection of works, including Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.  

This 1920s ensemble reflects Doucet’s interest in Cubism.

The angular lines of the skirt joins are interrupted by the straight waistband, creating a purposefully disjointed effect.  The slight colour variation between the skirt and the top is just defined enough to create visual contrast, without being so different that the contrast is jarring.

The symmetrical beading of the bodice provides further contrast with the angled skirt lines, and highlights the vertical lines of the dress.

The diamond beading of the bodice plays with female anatomy, and highlights the fashionable low and flat bust of the early 20s.

The dress is topped by a cape, adding more curves and angles to the silhouette:

The cape’s beaded collar draws the eye up to the wearer’s face.  The sharp points at the hem of the cape along with the wide pleats of the skirt, would swing and move with the wearer.

While visually very different to the Edwardian gowns with layers of ruffles and delicate fabric that Doucet is best known for, this is still a typical Doucet creation in its attention to detail, beautiful handwork, and subtle contrast of colours.

What do you think?  Is this a work of wearable art?  Or did Doucet struggle to move with the times and update his style appropriately?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  Thanks in advance!)

43 Comments

  1. I love the look with the cape. I think it is wonderful with the cape – very simple, angular and graphic, and looks really imposing and elegantly minimalist. The dress is also nice, but for me, the embroidery/beading almost seems to fight a little bit. I do understand how it complements the lines of the design, but I almost wish it wasn’t there, and that we could just look at the beautiful construction of the textures and panels of the fabric and appreciate their austere purity. But then would the dress be too simple? Maybe it didn’t need the horizontal extensions to the vertical bars? I really like the bugle-bead rows forming the verticals, and up-close the embroidery is beautiful on the other motifs, but perhaps a bit too delicate for this particular design?

    Going to have to say 7.5/10

  2. Claire Payne says

    I would wear this. It is so on trend in terms of current fashion. I love the beading, the angular lines of the skirt, the silhouette and I love the ever so slight contrast in the colour used so that they look the same but make their difference in tone stand out. I would prefer it if the waistband wasn’t there and I would even go all out and wish for the beading to continue all the way to the hem but then it would be a different dress. As a lover of cubism I couldn’t be more over the moon than I am at seeing this dress. But wait! There is a bonus cape too! With the beading around the neck and those lovely pleats just under the fastening. More swooning from me.

    10 out of 10.

    • I was thinking, similarly, that this could totally be worn today. Not by me; my figure would fight it (just like it struggles with contemporary fashions) – but definitely by someone today.
      And I very much like it that way, that it’s very 1920s yet timeless, so I think in that, Doucet definitely succeeded, no matter what contemporary artistic effect he was going for in his own time; I simply like the textures and shapes of it, which always works best in clothing no matter the age.
      10/10

  3. Tracy Ragland says

    I love this dress with the cape! The curve of the collar is SO graceful! The dress underneath is beautifully made even though I’m not totally sold on the clashing oranges. 9.5

  4. JessieRoo says

    Love it! Especially the colors, and the beadwork, and the cape and…
    10/10

  5. Ivy Mendez says

    I love this dress. The drop waist 20s look always reminds me of Lady Mary from Downton, although I think the color is a bit bold for her style. The color is great, orange-red, rusty, and I think the embellishments are beautiful. It’s a totally different look with the cape and I like that one too.
    9.5/10 for me.

  6. Madeleine says

    Be still my beating heart! While my first love is Natural Form or early years 2nd Bustle, this is definitely my next favorite period. Throw in orange and metallic and I’m already in love. I would literally wear this today. The two-tone effect from the combination of the silk bodice and the wool skirt, and the geometric shapes are really lovely details. From a distance the embroidery and beading remind of the Egyptian Assuit shawls worked with strips of flat silver that were also popular at this time. I’m a fan of this dress! Thanks for this one – I have not run across this one before.

    So – 9.2/10

  7. Lisa W says

    This is glorious. The colours, the angles, the symmetry and relative simplicity of the embroidered & beaded motifs, the gauzy sleeves. Don’t even get me started on the fabulousness that is the pleating on the cape… 10/10 and I’d award more if I could.

  8. Cynthia says

    Me: I love everything about this!
    *scrolls*
    AND THERE’S A CAPE TOO!?!

    10/10

  9. I love it with the cape. The flow of the cape, the accent on the neck, the peek of the dress sleeves and the angles of the pleats all combined with that glorious saturated colour. It’s a heavenly ensemble! The dress alone I think really needs to be seen in motion for the full effect but the bodice would be lovely to sit across from at a dinner 🙂
    10/10

  10. Katie says

    I know the beading takes center stage, but I love the tone on tone, textural interplay of the fabrics. I think there are at least two, the top being chiffon for the sleeves, then beaded and layered over the solid crepe, which makes up the carefully knife pleated skirt. I really think fabric is the key for the 1920’s, it separates a dress that moves with the body in a conscious way from one that sticks out from the body like a potato sack.
    10/10

  11. A first for me, I give this a perfect 10. Cut, color, embellishment and that wonderful cape are a dream dress . And this isn’t even my preferred era.

  12. Carol Ortery says

    This is the first time I’ve fwlt a need to comment on a dress. I love this one. I want it. I will be saving this one to try my best to duplicate it! The needlework is perfection. He accomplished his goal of transforming cubism into wearable fashion. It is a piece of art.
    10/10

  13. This is my first time participating, although I always read your posts. But the dress is so amazing–in cut, color, and embellishment–that I had to chime in. Stunning, just stunning.

    10 out of 10

  14. I simply love this dress and cape. I’d wear it right now and wear it often. The rust color is one of my personal favorites, the beading is elegant and restrained. The cape is fabulous. Everything about this ensemble works for me. 10/10 for sure.

  15. Tegan says

    While I like the gown, an interesting and very high end 20s gown is often worth a look, THAT CAPE! My jaw dropped, it’s so simplice and beautiful. I think the gown alone is worth a 7 or 8 but the cape brings it higher. (I’m not a fan of the fabric contrast, although the beading is well done and tasteful)

    9/10 for DAT CAPE

  16. Susan B. says

    Another cape fan here. With the cape, this costume looks quite timeless, with a nod to the past in the beaded collar. Without the cape, the dress is definitely a product of its actual time. Beautifully executed and quite admirable, though there’s no way I ever could or should wear it. I’m not fond of the color, but that’s a personal quirk. It would be striking on a tall, slender brunette, none of which I am.

    But wow, that cape!

    9/10

  17. Rachel says

    The reds! The angles! THE SLEEVES. This is pure delight for me. It’s artistic, but it works so well as a garment. It’s completely wearable – assured without being self-indulgent.

    A quibble does sneak its way in – the waist. I find myself wanting either a somewhat higher waist (like from the previous decade) or a somewhat lower waist (like from the later twenties).

    Even so, this is classy and bold.

    10

  18. This is exquisite, even more so with that marvellously constructged cape. The tone-on-tone is masterfully handled, and the beaded embroidery is just enough of a contrast.

    10 of 10

  19. PepperReed says

    GORGEOUS. That deep, rich color and the steely gleam of the beading (not too bright) and the angular and ‘feathery’ motif, plus a cape = Fantastic and still very wearable today.

    One niggle is I don’t care for how the beading intersects the skirt panels; it’s awkward, so minus a bit for that.

    9.5/10

  20. I love the color blocking, the lines and the flow. And I’m incredibly impressed the beading only serves to enhance it, not distract from it. I’m even more impressed that the cape, of the same color and without embellishment, is also so visually interesting. Clearly, I’m all in for this one. 10/10

  21. Chloe says

    This dress is phenomenal! Every element of it is pleasing to me except that the center row of beading collides with and is obstructed by the triangle of darker orange fabric. I feel like it could have ended higher to avoid the problem.

    9.5/10

  22. When that Disney character said “No capes!”, she obviously had not seen this little beauty. The ensemble with the cape makes the look for me.

    I had to take points off for the embroidery and beading. While it works on the collar of the cape, I feel it detracts from the elegant simplicity of the contrasting fabrics on the dress.

    7.5/10.

  23. I scrolled through and thought, meh kina boring, not super interesting. It’s well done enough, and then I got to the cape. Wow! I need that cape. NEED. Or I think I need that cape.

    without the cape – 7/10
    with the cape – 9/10

  24. nanny norfolk says

    Wonderful colour & with the super cape it could be worn now. ( what a lovely button to ) I thought there was a wee bit too much beading on the dress but otherwise super.
    9.5 /10

  25. Stéphanie says

    It’ stunning. I love the colour and the beading. I like how the beading emphasises the fashionable bust line, without specifically identifying the wearer’s breasts. The beading might even make a woman whose bust did not quite meet the fashionable ideal look like she did. I particularly love the points where the skirt joins the bodice and the waistband that makes the points stand out.
    The cape is fabulous too. It’s substantial enough to actually provide some protection from the cold. The lines are gorgeous and the beading on the collar hints at the dress its self without giving it all away.
    The whole ensemble looks wearable and like it would be stunning on who ever wore it. 10/10

  26. 10/10. Love it, and would wear it in a heartbeat, though I would prefer a different bodice colour since brick red doesn’t look great on me. The cape is particularly lovely.

  27. Florence says

    I’m not a fan of the 1920s silhouette and this dress is very much a product of its time.
    Silhouette aside, I love the details, the beading and the use of colour and geometric form.
    Living in the 1920s, I would have loved it.

    And oh boy, the cape. That’s awesome!

    The cape brings it up to 9.5/10

  28. Lalaith says

    Torso beading seems a little much but the cape makes it. Would wear after picking off a few of the beads.

    9.5/10

  29. I love this. The 1920s silhouette was not made for someone of my curvy stature, but I do appreciate the look. I do love this, the beading, the Art Deco lines. The cape looks right in style now, the Lagan look.

  30. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    I would wear this! I love the rust color. I assume it’s wool crepe and silk crepe?

    It is definitely meant for strolling into a high-class cafe, with the cape swooshing, and then removing the cape to reveal the delicate top and beading.

    Doucet made the transition from Edwardian to post-Edwardian very well, because he was all about the fabric and the lines and not so much the frou-frou and bling. He may have sighed with relief when he could do dresses like this.

    10/10

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