I've been researching twentieth century fashion for ideas and inspiration, and my interest was struck while reading about some of the first fashion icons. Because these were days when women had to fight for their rights and eventually liberate themselves, it makes perfect sense that they also had to fight to clothe themselves as equals rather than erotic ornaments. Around the turn of the century the female wardrobe embodied that of an "S" shape. Women were fully armed in their grotesque and unnatural body form; breasts pushed outward and the rear exaggerated as a counterweight. The female shape was treated as an object, deformed and suppressed from it's natural state. This was the industry standard for female fashion, visibly unequal to that of a man's garment.
Rational dressing was becoming more popular and expirimental by artists and free thinkers of this early century. During this movement of modern thinking Jeanne Paquin established a name and iconic reputation for herself as the first couturiere to become a fashion icon. Jeanne and Isidoe Paquin opened the House of Paquin in 1891, it soon became known for it's youthful, modern and sophisitcated fashions. Eight years into her career Jeanne was chosen by other leading couturiers to head the first collective exhibition of couture at the Paris Universal Exibition in 1900. For her display she chose a wax manequin of herself dressed in a lux blue velvet teagown emriodered with gold roses and trimmed in Alecon lace. Paquin was known for wearing her own designs and making an impression on those around her, she has been coined as "The Mother of Modern Dress" due to her free and comfertable garments. She was the personification of her own style, and her popularity prepared the way for the rise of the next great fashion personality- Coco Chanel.