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George Barbier

January 3, 2009

A French fashion illustrator from Nantes who worked alongside names like Erté, Iribe, and Lepape , George Barbier produced some of the most enchanting moments of early 20th century orientalism and profound luxury. He is by far one of my favorite early fashion illustrators.

Barbier’s work is characterized by the ruling aesthetic of the time — art nouveau. There is little dimension, but drapery lines are obedient and forms are solidified in vibrant color. Ornate decor and textile ornamentation is paramount. From the designs depicted we are reminded of the period’s fashion trends (namely 1920 -1930). Flapper dresses, the “kinetic silhouette” assisted by fringe and tassles, exotic fur trims and jewels from “the orient”.

The extremity of accessories such as Indian wedding fan fare, turbans, and giant fans were underlined but never overshadowed by the simple silhouettes that high class women wore. If ever a carbon copy revival of a revolutionary fashion movement was overdue, this is it violets!

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