New York

Paul Poiret

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
May 9–August 5

Curated by Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda

To understand the radicality of Paul Poiret’s designs, you have to compare his “look” to the starchy, buxom, Edwardian silhouette that preceded it. True, the “Pasha of Paris,” as he was known, released women from their corsets only to encrust them in a kind of Orientalist carapace. But he also implied that a woman’s allure lay not in the shape of her torso but in her gestures, attitude, and presence—a step in the right direction that blazed the trail for Chanel’s protofeminist modernism. Featuring fifty Poiret ensembles dating from 1903 to 1928, Art Deco illustrations by Georges Lepape and Paul Iribe, furniture by Poiret’s atelier, and a coffeetable-worthy catalogue, this show returns the pasha to his rightful place.