Le Miror des Modes, Chronique Parisienne, Octobre 1907

Posted by muhammad nasrudin



My translation of the scanned article posted by Lauren of Wearing History, from Miroir des Modes, Oct. 1907.  I've done the best that I can, but a lengthy article is significantly harder than a short caption!  Untranslated words have been left in italics (some because I can't make them out, some because they're in my glossary and I tend to leave them untranslated); my notes are in brackets.





The first coolness has chased to the sea and the mountains the elegant Parisians who had gone to look among vast horizons, in the forests of great somber pines at Cauterets or Luchon [French spa towns], a distraction from the marvelously involved, artificial, and fatiguing life in the capital.

Only Biarritz can still retain on its dream coast the last devotees of open air and free space.  But soon the approaching autumn will make them abandon their dear retreat to return to Paris, to a life of business, parties, dinners, and visits.

It is a serious time for women.  For three months, she has not gone to a couturier or modiste.  Her trunks, packed when leaving with fresh linens, fine laces, and airy tussahs, now contain a shapeless mass of crumpled, outmoded, unwearable fabric.  One must go back to Paris before returning to the autumn hunts if one wants to preserve one's reputation of impeccable elegance.

Among the main preoccupations, the first will inevitably be on the choice of fabric which will have the mission of setting off her beauty, for the heavy, bulky and hot wools will not be long in appearing.  Our manufacturers, always in search of happier ideas newer than the last, now and already spread under our charmed eyes the prettiest fashion collections, all the plain ones and the fantastic ones are grouped there, the most diverse types jostle there, the most opposing colors meet there, and all that variety meets harmoniously, so great is the art which presides over their composition.  Let us study together, if you like, Madame and dear teacher, these novelties of today which will be our paruresof tomorrow.

Among the fabrics proposed for your choice, I will recommend to you, first of all, vicuna wools with large diagonal stripes, reminiscent of the camel-hair of our grandmothers, for clothing of a simplicity and resistance to every experience.  The favorite shades will be all the colored half-tones: like the pretty turquoise shades, almond green, raspberry, or crushed strawberry, and that violet so hot to the eye – called "Monsignor violet" – which has little by little entered our good graces.  [This violet is most likely based on the Monsignor iris, introduced in 1907.]  For the calmest colors, the least significantly fanciful, I will name the colors elephant, taupe, and beaver, whose popularity lasted through the seasons.

I imparted to you already, in my last chronicle, the importance of chevrons, which slip into all fabrics, including the plain cheviot which is replaced by the cheviot with chevrons in all sizes.  The question of stripes, well-studied and well-discussed, has a rather fortunate solution in the pinstripes already described, and in the threaded and spaced light ones which replace the equal pekin [silk taffeta with stripes of equal width], all to avoid the monotony which has become so banal.  The plain cloths [specifically, wool cloth] and above all the "frisson" velvets [possibly crushed velvet?], so silky and supple, will make the base of all our elegant toilettes: those in the same range of colors that permit mixing in the happiest fashion.

Pretty taffetas, full of softness and  abandon, also match them in this.  We find again here the half-tones of colors so hot and so sober at the same time, Florentine green with bronze highlights, Nattier blue supported with wine-pinks ranging from raspberry to Virginia creeper, the violets of all tones, and, in the palest shades, the pretty, sweetly faded colors, so well christened "dragée" or "praline".  Nice fancy material often accompanies cloth or solid velvet to form the trim, disposed in gilets, piping, revers of all types; it is thus that we see bronze cloth trimmed with bronze and almond green pekin taffetas.

Cotton velvet triumphs like the woolens in the same half-tones in favor: the velours de chasse [hunt velvet? appears to mean corduroy] with large ribs will be rather largely used: at last, it is possible that after a season where the plaids and stripes have had such success, one comes back to the true tartan where one must find, in green and blue, the combinations of novel clothing.

In this brilliant series of new fabrics, the special materials for clothes have not been forgotten: among these it is the following which have particularly retained my attention: the double-faced vicunas, in solid colors, with backs of contrasting colors, for example bronze lined with almond green, navy lined with green, "nickel" on one side and "squirrel" on the other. The back is used for the trimming, cut on the bias, collar, revers, or flat trimming on a tuxedo.  The same type of fabric is used in combination with stripes and checks, which permits varying the series of designs infinitely and using them in charming and practical clothing.  Plain cloth is replaced with more fancy, and it is marvelous for morning promenades in the woods, or driving in an open or closed car.

 Apropos of the automobile, there is a special fabric which has had the greatest success: the "Tyrol tweed" which is used in mixed grey and in greenish tones for large garments fitted to the body whose ampleness comes from large godets and are completed with a simple trimming of velvet or assorted leather.  For the auto again, we have long coats of lamb in the shades "cooked" or "negro's head" with large pockets and leather buttons; and, as the first coolness will be transformed into real cold, the twill pelisse lined with possum, the seal paletots, of Russian foal or white goat for more refinement.  Anyway, the automobile is not content to carry death into the bottom of our hearts for killing our dogs, to smash without pity all that it finds in its path; for it again hunters and trappers discover, in the most inaccessible deserts, furs of animals as strange as they are unknown: everything that has a long coat is good for them, and, landing at China, there are slaughters of savage cats, lynxes, marmots, and wolves!  These pelts, all very resistant, are carefully prepared and tanned: they will increase in brilliance and in finesse, then, decorated and [given?] some high-sounding names, make the good humor of coquettish sportswomen.

We are now seen in full fur, it seems the emerging question of October, for, as the elegant woman burns with desire to display new and precious fleeces, the cautious woman likes to regain their warm wrapping, and the practical woman makes her winter orders early to benefit neatly with what our furriers call "summer prices".

They all look thus with a little connoisseur's air, the fashionable furs – the terror of husbands who dread that more than anything else, with such bills!  These men see figuring this year breitschwanz [fetal karakul lamb], karakul, an amount of otter, but much less astrakhan, unless it is, by chance, some garment of grey astrakhan, a fashionable fantasy!  Chinchilla and mink will make them shiver, these two furs being simply ruinous this year.  The beautiful sable stole will not be less; as Madame, very reasonably, renounces it, often to the profit of the marten, which is less onerous to her budget.

You know, don't you, the pécanor fisher, this long-haired fur, more ordinary, more coarse of aspect and more dark than sable, and which seems to be between that and fox?  They make quantities of mid-priced stoles of it, very solid and practical stoles since a clever technique succeeded to remove the very strong scent from this fur, which used to devalue it.

Skunk has ceased to please, thus our fur artists have decided to give their attention to fox, particularly the spotted fox, which they dye and spot by hand with a consummate ability that is a science.  These spotted foxes, already very beautiful, will be the consolation of those who cannot attain the luxurious parure of the real silver fox.

In turn, the white fox, on the way to success, eclipses ermine.

The new designs will be all closely consecrated to fashion: I reserve for myself to tell you thus.  I hastened to mention to you, however, of the little short paletots that we infinitely appreciate.  Their sleeves, less held out at the shoulder, will be three-quarter length and with double fur parements, turned back at will, and they will make the need for completely long sleeves.  The shoulder, I repeat, will be flat, and the fullness of the sleeve will be reminiscent of the style of 1830.  No fitted garments, more large jackets enclosing the waist: We find again in the created designs the lines of the jackets of this summer, lightly detached in the back, with receding, découpé, rounded basques.  Certain supple furs – breitschwanz, among others – are used like fabric, their fullness held in by sewn-down pleats with very fine "pinches".  The trims naturally follow the fashion, and never has one seen, mixed with fur, things like embroideries, braids, and soutache.  On the karakul and breitschwanz, soutache motifs posed on the ground make a happy effect, together with flowers and gathered and contoured black satin ribbon rosettes.  [Or black satin ribbon flowers and rosettes.]  For more of a fantasy, one creates pretty things with lace, like this little paletot entirely made with Venetian guipure alternating with bands of chinchilla of the same width.

Have I told you that stoles are made shorter, taking up in width what they lose in length?  Their square back falls low on the shoulders: these are very small garments which will help us to pass through the demi-season until the real cold.  Here is one, disposed in an original fashion, with its large point falling in the back, its double point settling before and behind the arms, to necessarily attach below and form a sort of Japanese sleeve, or remain floating at will.  It is lengthened in front in long portions fringed with tails.

I will recommend to you again two designs: the first made of four fishers with natural heads, the first two crossed in the back, the other two falling on and enlarging the shoulders..

The second, in spotted fox, is composed of two foxes posed flat, lined with assorted satin covered with drawstringed mousseline de soie.  Effect very large and short; head and fringe of tails for trimming.

The muffs stay very large, very flat, and stuffed as little as possible in general.  One tries to launch the old round and elongated muffs of Vigée-Lebrun in beautiful fur; chinchilla, ermine, or sable; their perfection will reside in the work and disposition of the elongated pelts; their natural shades forming designs and stripes.

But it may appear premature to you.  Mesdames, in speaking to you of furs; that which interests you at the beginning of the autumn are new coiffures, hats which must replace abandoned straw hats, forsaken flowers which are no more than souvenirs of a passed season.  You long to know that the next figures will be very long, the front much larger, flat in general and always without barrettes; other designs will have quite broken revers on the left side.  High caps, with soaring trims in front, will complete the style.  Japanese and Chinese braids haven't said their last word; our most reputable modistes employ them in profusion, in puffs, large knots and borders.

For flowers in fashion we watch the wide-spreading peonies that are successfully made to flower even in the autumn.  It is no longer the white or light pink peony that we have worn recently; these tones have been overshadowed, they have turned to violet and cerise, the two preferred colors.

We are truly prepared for pretty things; for velvet hats lined with light taffeta, sometimes covered with a mousseline de soie of a different tone which makes what is beneath gleam changeably, completely taut black satin hats also merit being reported.  With that, plumes, aigrettes, and abundant fantasy, as fragile and luxurious as those which we absolutely loved this summer.

LAURENCE DE LAPRADE