Poiret Twill


"After breakfast she went back out to the bungalow and used the telephone to make an appointment for that afternoon with Wilson Siddons Barker III, an attorney who specialized in divorce cases and came highly recommended by any number of people Leora knew. She spent a long while on her face and clothes--the better part of the morning--finally selecting a spring suit of her own design, an all-wool Poiret twill in navy with a silk peau de cygne lining, and her blue velvet cape and turban to match. She completed the outfit with her pearls and lorgnette along with two strings of jet beads and a diamond brooch her mother had bequeathed her. 'Oh, my, my,' Leora said when she had a look at her, 'you are a marvel.'" (44-45)


Boyle, T.C. The Women. London: Bloomsbury, 2010.


Set in 1924, written in the 2000s. I'm not sold on all of his descriptions of the clothing--he uses women's dress to really drive home the period--but I like this one.


Poiret was an especially frequent victim of the notorious practice of using a designer's name--as well as designs and even counterfeit labels--without permission or connection. A form of flattery? A product of his own self-aggrandizement? Evidence of his genius (or at least his popularity)? I wonder if Poiret Twill was an invention of the designer's making, or just clever advertising? In Spokane in 1922, the fabric was advertised in lowercase letters, breaking any direct ties, indicating the fabric's popularity, and maybe even an attempt to avoid any possible litigation.

See also a NYT article from 1923 suggesting that Poiret twill will be the fabric of the year for ready-to-wear.

In the above quote, I figured that it was a Poiret dress made of a twill-weave fabric, which seems more appropriate to the character, but maybe I'm mistaken? Perhaps there is more nuance to this reference--the author hasn't mentioned another designer yet.

For more about Poiret and American copy/right issues, see Nancy Troy's Couture Culture from 2003, and various articles by the same.


Image credit: Abbot Brothers Company advertisement in the Lewiston (ME) Daily Sun, Oct. 21, 1922. From here.