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Paul Poiret (1879-1944) was the most popular designer of the pre-World War I period, perhaps best known for his hobble (or pencil) skirt design, a vertical, tight-bottomed style that forced women to walk by taking tiny steps. He also revived the Empire style that was originally in vogue during the Napoleonic era of the early 1800s. His penchant for draping fabric on the female body served to offer up an alternative to the constriction of the corset. Poiret's decadent and theatrical designs employed all manner of embellishments, from fox-fur stoles to long strands of pearls and multicolored feathers. Poiret designed for European royalty during the early twentieth century, but his popularity declined after the war, and he lost his business and his fortune in 1929. He died penniless and bitter in 1944.

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