With the aid of numerous design drawings, ornamental prints, illustrated books, posters, and magazines from the MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection, this exhibition proves that haute couture is not a 21st-century invention. “High” fashion and valuable accessories have been en vogue since the early modern period—as is illustrated by plates from the 16th century, for example by Jost Amman, Wenzel Hollar, and Jacques Callot, and later by Petitot’s Mascarade à la Grecque [Masquerade in the Greek style] and Watteau’s Figures de modes [Figures of fashion], as well as the exuberant fashion plates in the first magazines, such as Élégance Parisienne and its German counterpart Journal des Luxus und der Moden. As the student of the founder of haute couture, Paul Poiret was one of the first “high-end” fashion designers. During his visit to Vienna in 1911 he made contact with the Wiener Werkstätte, whose textiles would capture his imagination. Designs by Dagobert Peche, Eduard Wimmer-Wisgrill, and Maria Likarz bear witness to the mutual nature of this inspiration, which ultimately culminated in the portfolio Mode Wien 1914/15 [Viennese fashion 1914–15]. The creative work of these artists demonstrates their passion for designs that fall between the extremes of utility and fashion utopia.
Curator: Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection/Archive