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"Starfish" is one of a set of wittily designed costumes which include an octopus, a starfish, a lobster a goldfish, and a stingray. This was the beginning of Erté’s work for the Folies Bergere, a professional relationship that lasted for most of his career. The print is hot stamped and embossed, with a special mother of pearl rainbow stamping. The rainbow effect in mother of pearl stamping relates to the natural reflection of sunlight on water. The extravagant gold costume is highlighted by the simple setting. Erté’s designs elaborate starfish costumes without losing sight of the beautiful woman underneath. The design combines lush fabric and pattern blended with jeweled detail. Erté creates a costume relating to the natural form of a starfish. The artistic blending of real organic form in an imaginary setting is unique to Erté’s oeuvre.
Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23rd, 1892 and was raised amidst Russia's social elite. 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. In 1912, Romain left St. Petersburg for Paris at the age of nineteen with the aim of becoming an artist. After working with Paul " Le Magnifique" Poiret on several theatrical productions Romain, still under the pseudonym of Erte, began to work more independently. He hand-crafted original costume and fashion designs for many of the era’s most renowned actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova, Norma Shearer, and others. His masterpieces for the stage included extravagant production designs at venues such as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris, and the Paris Opera. In 1915 he began his long professional relationship with Harper's Bazaar and created 240 covers for the esteemed magazine. For 6 months in 1916, Erté simultaneously worked with Vogue as well. As a result of his highly publicized success, Erté would later be called the father of the ‘Art Deco’ movement.