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LIVE 24-SEVEN


A BUY E R’ S GUIDE ART DECO ELEGANCE:


THE EXOTIC WORLD OF ERTÉ


Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23rd 1892. The only son of an admiral in the Imperial Fleet, he was raised amidst Russia's social elite. As a young boy, Romain worshipped his mother and was educated at home until the age of 12, spending much of his time in the company of elegant women.


At the age of five, he created an evening gown for his mother and managed to persuade the adults to craft it; they were astounded by the results. He was also fascinated by the Persian miniatures he found in his father's library; these exotic, brightly patterned designs continued to be important to him and influenced the development of his style.


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Will Farmer is our antiques & collectors expert, he is well known for his resident work on the Antiques Roadshow, he has also written for the popular ‘Miller’s Antique Guide’. Those in the know will have also come across him at ‘Fieldings Auctioneers’. We are delighted that Will writes for Live 24-Seven, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise.


At the age of 19, Romain left St. Petersburg for Paris with the aim of becoming an artist. He took nothing with him and as it turned out he was leaving Russia forever. In December of 1912 he managed to find work as a draughtsman in a second-rate fashion house called Caroline. However, at the end of his first month there, the Madame and owner of the establishment handed back his drawings and offered some maternal advice, to abandon his hopes of becoming an artist since he had no such talent.


In response, Erté put all his sketches and designs in an envelope and sent them to the most famous person in the world of fashion – Paul Poiret, “Paul le Magnifique”. Paul Poiret immediately offered for him to work at his company, which in the early 20th century, was setting the standard to all that Erté would become a revolutionary force within in Parisian fashion world.


It can only be assumed that Poiret saw in the young Russian a talent that would enable him to take up the couturier’s ideas and develop them himself. Still under-age however, Romain would need his father’s signature on the work contract – something that didn’t elicit great enthusiasm from the admiral, who had no wish for his son to embark on a career that would bring shame on their noble, military lineage. Thus it was that he took an artistic name and became who the world knows as Erté, an abbreviation formed from the first letters in his first and last names.


After working with Poiret on several theatrical productions, Romain, still under the pseudonym of Erté, began to work more independently. In 1914, he created the entire wardrobe for Pierre Louÿs’ Aphrodite at the Theatre de la Renaissance. Erté did not just design the dresses, he oversaw the entire creation process within Poiret’s workshop, specialising exclusively in theatrical costume and design.


LIVE24-SEVEN.COM


BUYERS GUIDE ER T É – ROMAIN PE TROVICH DE T IR TOF F


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