Fashion History

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Fashion is a popular aesthetic expression in a certain time and context, especially in clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle and body proportions.

Whereas a trend often connotes a very specific aesthetic expression, and often lasting shorter than a season, fashion is a distinctive and industry-supported expression traditionally tied to the fashion season and collections. Style is an expression that lasts over many seasons, and is often connected to cultural movements and social markers, symbols, class and culture. According to sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, fashion connotes “the latest fashion, the latest difference.

The history of fashion design refers to the development of the fashion industry which designs clothing and accessories. The modern industry, based around firms or fashion houses run by individual designers, started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who from 1858 was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments that he created.

 

“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language” Miuccia Prada

Before the mid-19th century the division between haute couture and ready-to-wear did not really exist. All but the most basic major pieces of female clothing was made-to-measure by dressmakers and seamstresses dealing directly with the client, and fitting to her shape. Hats, gloves and similar accessories were mostly made ready to wear and sold in shops as now. Tailors worked with men in the same way.

The design of these clothes became increasing based on printed designs, especially from Paris, which were circulated around Europe, and eagerly anticipated in the provinces. Seamstresses would then interpret these patterns as best they could. The origin of the designs was the clothes devised by the most fashionable figures, normally those at court, in the capital, together with their seamstresses and tailors. Though there had been distribution of dressed dolls from France since the 16th century and Abraham Bosse had produced engravings of fashion in the 1620s, the pace of change picked up in the 1780s with increased publication of French engravings illustrating the latest Paris styles. By 1800, all Western Europeans were dressing alike (or thought they were); local variation became first a sign of provincial culture and later a badge of the conservative peasant.

Around the start of the 20th century fashion magazines began to include photographs and became even more influential. Throughout the world these magazines were greatly sought-after and had a profound effect on public taste. Talented illustrators – among them Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape, Erté, and George Barbier – drew attractive fashion plates for these publications, which covered the most recent developments in fashion and beauty. Perhaps the most famous of these magazines was La Gazette du Bon Ton which was founded in 1912 by Lucien Vogel and regularly published until 1925.

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