When studying early 20th century fashions we tend to concentrate on French and Italian design houses like Poiret, Chanel, Lanvin and Fortuny. Without a doubt, these design houses were outstanding and always leaders of the industry. Poiret and Fortuny pioneered unstructured clothing with Fortuny developing methods of pleating and stenciling that are still unrivaled today. Chanel was responsible for the little black dress and sportswear as well as incomparable evening wear and Lanvin for the Robe du Style, children's clothing and her romantic clothing.
Still, there are many designers and houses that are overlooked including Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna. Founded by architect Josef Hoffmann and painter Kolo Moser in 1903. The company consisted of artists and craftsmen and is better know for their furniture, accessories, fabrics and interior design than for their fashions. In fact their fashion house, established in 1910, was an offshoot of the hand-painted and hand-printed textiles that had been produced for many years. The fabric designs were so original that they attracted the attention of the Paris designers and even the great Poiret bought their fabrics, beginning in 1911.
Above is a photograph of the dining room in the Palais Stoclet designed by Josef Hoffmann with a frieze painted by Gustav Klimt.
And, here is an illustration by Mela Koehler that I own, of a wonderful gym or exercise outfit that probably dates to the late teens or early 1920s. Though there is no description with the illustration you can see the matching printed knickers peeking out from below the skirt that falls just above the knee. Both the dress and knickers are trimmed in solid black with print fabric at the yoke, short sleeves, encircling the waist on on the knickers. And, don't you just love those shoes with the wrap ties? What I wouldn't give to find the outfit to go along with my illustration!