Dépliant « Concours de la Mode Idéale », 1923. Collection Printemps Héritage
One hundred years ago, in 1923, before women even had the right to vote in France, Printemps organized the “Ideal Fashion Contest”. The purpose and rules of this unique poll, open exclusively to female customers, were outlined in an elegant pamphlet included with the Summer Catalogue: to take part, female customers were given the chance to fill out a form and drop it off in store or send it in by mail. Among the various daytime and evening dress models, the ones earning the most votes went on to form the ideal silhouette, including hairstyle, waist placement, shoes, and sleeves. In short, all the key components of the new fashion trends.
With this initiative, Printemps invited its female customers to choose the clothing they felt would best reveal all their elegance and, most importantly, align with the conditions of modern life. The operation was a huge success: 203,351 women answered the call. The results, published in the Winter Catalogue, revealed the evolution of feminine style, which took a decisive shift towards comfort in the 1920s: flowing fabrics, straight cuts and simple lines that conceal form, in following with the Art Deco aesthetic. Preferring lower waists, women began wearing shorter skirts to show off their legs and t-strap pumps with wide heels. Through this pioneering survey, Printemps brought together its female customers the as a community for the first time, while supporting and encouraging their vestiary and social emancipation.