Jeanne Paquin  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jeanne Paquin (1869 - 1936) was a French fashion designer, known for her resolutely modern and innovative designs.

Born in Saint-Denis in 1869, Paquin trained as a dressmaker at Rouff and later opened her own fashion house in 1891, the first woman to ever do so. The Maison Paquin quickly became known for its Eighteenth century-inspired pastel evening dresses and tailored day dresses, as well as for its numerous publicity stunts, including organizing fashion parades to promote her new models and sending her models to operas and races in order to show off her designs. Paquin also frequently collaborated with the illustrators and architects Leon Bakst, George Barbier, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Louis Süe for the creation of stage costumes, the publication of dress albums and the decoration of her private residences, reinforcing her reputation as a thoroughly modern designer.

Jeanne Paquin withdrew from the House in 1920, leaving the administration with Henri Joire, and the artistic direction to Madeleine Wallis. The direction of the House later returned to Colette Massignac who was able to adapt the style of the collections to the popular “New Look” of the 1950s. In 1953, the Maison Paquin purchased the French branch of the House of Worth, but financial difficulties forced the House to close down in 1956.

In her time, Paquin had a prestige equal to that of Charles Worth and Jacques Doucet but is nowadays largely forgotten.

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