"Paul Poiret: King of Fashion," the exhibition that opened this week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, may not have the immediate, broad appeal of "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years,"the most popular of the Costume Institute's recent shows, or the voyeuristic pleasure of "Nan Kempner: American Chic," which gave viewers the chance to look inside the famed socialite's vast closets. But Paul Poiret, though little known outside the fashion world, was fashion's Picasso. Although he titled his 1932 autobiography King of Fashion, Poiret's break with the past was so great that he might better be called fashion's revolutionary, the man who brought modernity into being. Dispensing with social mores and tradition, he changed not just how women dress, but how they move and live.
Click here to view a slide show essay about Paul Poiret.