Paul Poiret (1879-1944) is a name, like Coco Chanel, steeped in high-life Parisian design. But whereas the latter name endures, the former does not. And yet Poiret was a fashion pacesetter whose audaciously loose-fitting, streamline presences for wealthy and glamorous luminaries of the City of Light introduced the remarkably fertile and influential trend of what eventually came to be known as Art Deco. His acute sense of where history was going was not, alas, matched by business acumen, and his fifteen or so year reign of generating promising newness (in association with the great Paris graphic designers of the era), going far beyond surface matters, skidded to a halt in the late 1920s.
Capitalizing on his range of contacts, he launched a fervent project, unfortunately not a financial success, in hopes of turning the tide of sad tidings. This was to consist of a coffee-table book survey of the great Paris retail palaces, as conveyed by some of those aforementioned graphic artists as afforded the luxury of top-of-the-line paper stock and awe-inspiring lithography from the great vintage poster concern, Devambez, as packaged by the peerless bindery, Magnier Frères.
Our first true-litho example, shown above, tells us immediately that we are in the presence of small-format (14″ x 10 ½”) advertising art which actually surpasses most of the blue-chip poster lithography of the era. Bi-plane soaring vision by virtue of a Place Vendome perfume and cosmetics oasis! Continue reading