From Corset to Liberation


Giedre Gab guides us through one of the major turning points in the history of fashion, changing traditions and re-designing women's style in the 20th century. Don't forget to check out the gallery featuring beautiful designs from the Alexandre Vassiliev exhibition in Lithuania.

The period from 1890 to 1914, or ‘La Belle Époque’, was an era of luxury and beautiful fashion and was interrupted by the new style called Art Nouveau. Originating in Paris, the new art style, drawing upon nature, history and oriental art, was hugely successful. Though it did not last long, Art Nouveau spread through Europe leaving a significant mark in fashion history.

The 19th century marked a time of change, not only in society but also in fashion. New emerging artistic preferences meant that delicate pastel tones from nature were favored. Misty tulle, fog-colored muslin, milk-white foam laces, faded flowers, were commonly found in a lady’s wardrobe. Talented French designer Paul Poirot, who established his business in Paris in 1903, became a significant figure in women’s fashion at the turn of the century.

With the support of the doctors and his leadership, women gradually stopped wearing body-damaging corsets. Poirot completely changed the silhouette of women’s clothing, abandoning corsets and making dresses narrower and higher cut.

Alexandre Vassiliev, a famous fashion historian, stage designer and writer amongst other professions, is the owner of one the largest private collections of historic costumes. Vassiliev built this collection with the aim to preserve the heritage of the style, but also to display fashion masterpieces to a wider audience.

The Alexandre Vassiliev exhibition can be found in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vilnius, Lithuania, introduces visitors with more than a hundred unique dresses of that period that were created by the European fashion houses such as The Worth, Doucet, The Paquin, Cheruit, The Rouff, Poiret, Babani, and The Fortuny. The exhibition also displays a variety of photographs, painting and even furniture pieces.

The exhibition is a treat for every fashion lover. It not only allows the visitors to admire the mastery of the tailor’s work but also reveals the essence of ‘La Belle Époque’ – the time of piece and prosperity.


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