Loie Fuller is a turn-of-the-century dancer whose name stands apart. She is often coupled with the great Isadora Duncan, who was also an experimental dancer, but Loie Fuller was first. Fuller is most closely associated with Art Nouveau. She first came to prominence in the 1890s and was admired and imitated well into the 1900s. Like many luminaries of her time, Fuller caused a sensation in France; Paris called her La Loïe.

The image at the top is a poster designed by Jules Cheret in 1893 to advertise an upcoming performance at La Folies Bergère cabaret in Paris.

Loie Fuller, Library of Congress

 

She was born Marie Louise Fuller near Chicago, Illinois. Loie was introduced to public life early. She was a professional child actress, who later became interested in dancing and lighting effects. Loie Fuller developed her own free dance techniques. She performed choreography in long silk dresses before multi-colored lights.

Her talent was instantly recognized. The poet William Butler Yeats admired her and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted her. Even the legendary Lumière brothers were entranced. Auguste and Louis Lumière were amongst the very first pioneers into filmmaking and they were captivated by Loie’s Serpentine dance.

 

Lumière brothers

Strangely, despite nearly every important pioneer filmmaker working with Loie Fuller at some point, their original films of her were lost. What remains are their contemporaneous movies of other women performing Fuller’s famous serpentine dance.

Color film was many years in the future, so the colors you see here have been hand-colored by the filmmakers on a frame-by-frame basis, to capture the dazzling multi-colored effects of Loie Fuller’s live shows.

 

 

 

Should you want to learn more about Loie Fuller, I recommend this excellent article on the Public Domain Review.

S0me of the best things about the turn of the century are the lovely clothes and hats and jewelry.

San Francisco held a fashion show in 1911 to showcase the upcoming spring fashions.

The San Francisco call., February 19, 1911

Or check out these ads circa 1910 and 1913, respectively. I love the girl’s hair on the left, in the first ad! Her friend’s hat… less so.

New-York tribune., November 24, 1910

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Here’s another fashion show, this one is in Arizona, and features an illustrated female with an odd, Disney-character-shaped eyes.

Arizona republican., March 13, 1911

Or check out this 1909 illustration. Apparently, the right clothes will transform you into an Alphonse Mucha painting! Where do I sign up?

October 03, 1909

Next up, it’s an ad for that awesome hairstyle again! How do I learn how to do my hair like that? Seriously. And why is the girl on the right sporting an early Princess Leia?

august 1912

Incidentally, do you know who Billie Burke is – the woman the picture references? None other than Glinda the Good Witch.

Burke was 55 when she starred in the Wizard of Oz as Glinda the Good Witch
Burke was 55 when she starred in The Wizard of Oz as Glinda the Good Witch.
We should probably listen to everything she has to say carefully.

That is not to say there were never any duds. August 1912 was a low point for this model, although the little bow-tie really pulls her whole ensemble together. This terrible outfit is actually pretty funny, especially when you read the ad beneath it. Beau-catcher?

August 1912

And hey, look. Women and editors took fashion very seriously back then. This poor woman was selected as the model with a figure “that has lost is slender lines”. As if that wasn’t enough to scar her, the article goes on to recommend this atrocious get-up as a means of hiding her hideous, hideous figure. Ouch!

nov 1915 - ouch

At the turn of the century, Paris hosted an Exposition Universelle, known to the rest of the world as the World’s fair of 1900. Paris Photographs, World Fair Exhibition, 1900. Posters, pictures and photos.

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Among the wonders introduced to mortals were the Crystal Palace, a building made entirely of iron and glass, the Hall of Machines, and the diesel engine.

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