The Women and Fashion of Mucha and Erte
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The Women and Fashion of Mucha and Erte

The influence of Mucha and Erte on fashion and design is significant. They have influenced fashion, jewelry and decor as well as design elements in architecture.

The women of Mucha and Erte are outrageously extravagant, fanciful beautiful and exotic. They influenced fashion and art and took their places on posters and illustrations of books and magazines. The women of these two well known designers are considered iconic of the periods in which they were brought to life.

Mucha 1860 - 1939

Alphonse Mucha (pronounced Mooka) was a well known Art Nouveau painter and designer. He began his career as a painter for theater sets and murals. His art drew heavily from his Slavic roots and soon became popular after creating a poster for the play Gismonda starring Sarah Bernhardt. His style was imitated and became known as Mucha style. He was a significant force in the emerging Art Nouveau period.

The women that he painted were romantic, sensual and seductive. Their faces expressive and idealized. The hair and clothing of his women took on a life of their own flowing into organic lines of swirls, curls and folds that became part of the landscape of flowers and trees and fantasy motifs that surrounded them. Their heads were often adorned with elaborate flowers and vines and crowns made of feathers and jewels.


Erte 1892 - 1990

Erte’s name (pronounced Ertay) actually came from the initials of his Russian name Romain de Tirtoff. Erte moved to Paris in 1910 and soon became a well known fashion designer creating designs and illustrations for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazine. He designed costumes and sets for movies and theatre and stage. His posters and images of women have become iconic of the Art Deco and Art Deco revival periods.

The women that Erte designed were tall, slender and austere. Their faces, mannequin like, are cold and sophisticated. They are draped in luxury and dripping with jewels and pearls as they stand in sometimes sinuous and sometimes rigid elongated postures. Their dresses and ornaments are stylized in the Art Deco geometry of symmetry and linear patterns that extend into and fill the picture frame with design and flourish. Color is used minimally but brilliantly in his designs. Black backgrounds with red, white, gold or blue dominant color is common in his designs.

Many if not all of Erte’s designs are still copyright protected but you may view them on this Google Image page.  Both Erte and Mucha were important innovators in the decorative arts with their boldness and originality of design at the turn of the 20th century. Art Deco and Art Nouveau each have their distinct elements that have made their way into design, décor and fashion even today.

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Comments (3)

Great art pieces indeed with colors truly vibrant and enchanting. Nice work, Judith.

Ranked #1 in Art & Art History

Excellent discussion. I don't care for Erte, but Mucha was fantastic.

I am more of an Mucha fan also. I like the designerly elements of Erte and in general like Deco better than Nouveau but as far as the fashion posters I'm with you.