Jacques Doucet was a French fashion designer, known for his elegant dresses, made with flimy translucent materials in superimposing pastel colors.

Jacques Doucet was born in Paris in 1853 to a prosperous family whose lingerie and fine linens business, Doucet Lingerie, had flourushed in the Rue de la Paix since 1816. Jacques Doucet was in love with elegance and worked to achieve it in his couture designs and in his private life. His clothes were of perfect taste and luxury, his name the only one equalled with Worth.

He built a reputation as a connoisseur by his superb collection of 18th century works of art and paintings. He became a patron of Impressionists and African sculpture. In 1909 he purchased Picasso's first cubism painting Demoiselles d'Avignon and put in in a special wing at the head of a crystal staircase.

Jacques' grandmother was a bonnet seller and lace merchant in the 19th century. Her son Edouard, expanded the business into linens for gentlemen.

In 1871, Jacques Doucet opened a salon selling ladies evening gowns, made of lace, silk ribbons, flowers, feathers, braid, beadwork and embroidery. He used rare gros point de Venise lace for entire dresses. His ensembles were as romantic and opulent as the ladies in his 18th century paintings.

Paul Poiret worked for Doucet from 1897 to 1900.

Doucet died in 1929, and his house was merged with Doueillet, but the merger was not successful and it closed in 1932. The men's business started by his father, is however still doing business in Paris.

The Look

Doucet opened a salon selling ladies apparel. An enthusiastic collector of eighteenth-century furniture, objets d'art, paintings and sculptures, many of his gowns were strongly influenced by this opulent era. A designer of taste and discrimination, Doucet valued dignity and luxury above novelty and practicality and therefore gradually went out of popularity during the 1920s. By far his most original designs were those he created for actresses of the time. For Doucet, dignity and luxury were more important than novelty. His designs lacked the simplicity of Vionnet or the shock value of Poiret, and slowly he began to be described as "stuffy". He dressed a generation of women but did not attract their daughters. A passionate collector of art and literature throughout his life, by the time of his death he had a magnificent collection of Post-Impressionist and Cubist paintings (including "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", which he bought direct from Picasso's studio), as well as two libraries of manuscripts by contemporary writers, both of which he left to the French nation. While little-remembered today, in his time he was equalled to the likes of Charles Worth and Jeanne Paquin and even now is remembered by fashion historians as one of the great old masters of fashion design.

Who Wears It

Doucet's clothes were worn by Rejane, a famous actress of the day whose taste was legendary.
Cecile Sorel, Rejane and Sarah Bernhardt (for whom he designed her famous white costume in L'Aiglon) all often wore his outfits, both on and off the stage.

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