History of Fashion

February 04, 2012

Fashion, the artistic approach to designing, selling, and, wearing clothes. To be in fashion is to conform to the constantly changing artistic ideal of the current day.

Modern fashion began at the end of World War I, when the invention of the new industrial clothing machinery made the burgeoning of the now vast ready-to-wear industry possible. Before World War I, clothes were inspired by Paris, but made with many personal interpretations by dressmakers all over the world. A situation in which two well-known women, appeared at the same public event, in the same dress, would have been virtually impossible.

Although modern fashion may seem to outsiders, to have move capriciously in many directions, since its beginning, its course has actually been uniquely simple and direct. Fashion has been tending steadly toward simplification and realism.

Fabrics have become consistently lighter in weight and more workable. Miracle drip-dry fabrics created a world-wide furor, when they were invented in the early 1940's. The development of new stretch fabrics, which move with the body have made clothes even more workable.

Fashion's most drastic change happened in the 1920's, when at the end of the war, women rebelled against restriction and artificiality. Almost overnight they shifted into the limp little short dress that was the flapper's uniform. Paris designer, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel sparked the fashion revolution. She also introduced wool jersey, the forerunner of the popular knit fashion.

The 1930's were probably the most charming era in modern fashion. Sportswear, at first very feminine, was born to answer to women's increasing freedom. Though clothes were becoming softer and simpler, they still kept some of their old-time personal mystery. Hollywood's stars were a fashion power in the US.

Paris in the 1930's was at a peak of creative activity. The snob appeal of buying original Paris designs, to be copied by American manufacturers, had begun. Paris was full of great names like Molyneux, Vionnet, and Mainbocher. The word chic, meaning the ultimate in fashion, became popular. It was personified in Elsa Schiaparelli, whose flippant, tongue-in-cheek fashion approach was cancelled by World War II, which saw the fashion capital occuppied by invading German armies.

In Paris 1947, Christian Dior launched the New Look. The New Look, probably a subconscious rejection of uniforms and restrictions, detoured fashion into a romantic bypath. Although it didn't actually change fashion inevitable course, it was a persistent influence for 7 years.

In 1951, Italy made its 1st bid as a fashion center. Its extrovert mood has been strikingly successful, chiefly in sportswear. Emilio Pucci's bold-colored silk print shirts and pants have been world influence in fashion.

England went ahead in the fashion world with the introduction of 'mod' and 'mini' clothes, in mid-1960's. London's influence was also felt in men's fashions, which changed markedly in the late 1960's.

The US is not actually in competition with England, France, or Italy, all of which it taps for creative ideas, simply because it likes to. US creative designers like Norman Norell, James Galanos, and Pauline Trigere, chooses to concentrate on successful production offering a wide range of types, sizes, and prices. An incredibly wide range of types, sizes, and prices make US ready-to-wear the envy of the rest of the world.

Source : Encyclopedia International by Eugenia Sheppard, Fashion Editor, New York Post

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