Fashion design is the art of application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories. Fashion design is influenced by cultural and social attitudes, and has varied over time and place. Fashion designers work in a number of ways in designing clothing and accessories such as bracelets and necklace. Because of the time required to bring a garment onto the market, designers must at times anticipate changes to consumer tastes.
“Designers conduct research on fashion trends and interpret them for their audience”. They attempt to design clothes which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn. They have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colors, patterns and styles to choose from. Though most clothing worn for everyday wear falls within a narrow range of conventional styles, unusual garments are usually sought for special occasions such as evening wear or party dresses.
Some clothes are made specifically for an individual, as in the case of haute couture or bespoke tailoring. Today, most clothing is designed for the mass market, especially casual and every-day wear are called ready to wear.
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” —Rachel Zoe
The society of the 1980s no longer criticized itself as consumerist, but was, instead, interested in ‘the spectacle’. The self-conscious image of the decade was very good for the fashion industry, which had never been quite so à la mode. Fashion shows were transfigured into media-saturated spectaculars and frequently televised, taking high priority in the social calendar. Appearance was related to performance, which was of supreme importance to a whole generation of young urban professionals, whose desire to look the part related to a craving for power. The way in which men and women associated with the latest styles was no more a matter of passive submission but disco music rapidly fell out of favor as the decade began, along with its associated clothing styles. By 1982, the last traces of 1970s fashion were gone.
During the 1980s, the mullet became the standard men’s haircut and women sported large, square-cut perms although there were many variations of both. Jumpsuits became a popular element of female clothing and on men, skinny neckties and wraparound sunglasses. Also during the ’80s, aerobics were in vogue and so brought into style Spandex leggings and headbands.
The two French fashion designers who best defined the look of the period were a man and Azzedine Alaia. Strongly influenced by his early career in the theater, Thierry Mugler produced fashion designs that combined Hollywood retro and futurism, with rounded hips, sharply accentuated shoulders, and a slight hint of the galactic heroine. Mugler’s glamorous dresses were a remarkable success, and signified the complete end of the hippy era and its unstructured silhouette. Known for his awe-inspiring combinations, Azzedine Alaia greatly influenced the silhouette of the woman of the 1980s. The master of all kinds of techniques that had previously been known only to haute couture, he experimented with many new and underused materials, such as spandex and viscose. The finish, simplicity, and sheer sexiness of Alaia’s look made women of every generation identify with his seductive style, and during the 1980s he achieved a certain glory and was held in high regard by members of his own profession.
In the 1990s it was no longer the done thing to follow fashion slavishly, a sharp contrast to the highly a la mode 1970s and 1980s. The phobia of being underdressed was finally completely displaced by the fear of overdressing. Fashion in the 1990s united around a new standard, minimalism, and styles of stark simplicity became the vogue. Despite the best efforts of a few designers to keep the flag for pretty dresses flying, by the end of the decade the notion of ostentatious finery had virtually disappeared. As well as the styling of the product, its promotion in the media became crucial to its success and image. The financial pressures of the decade had a devastating effect on the development of new talent and lessened the autonomy enjoyed by more established designers.
Fashion at the end of the 20th century tackled themes that fashion had not previously embraced. These themes included rape, disability, religious violence, death, and body modification. There was a dramatic move away from the sexy styles aimed at the glamorous femme fatale of the 1980s, and many designers, taken with a vision of romantic poverty, adopted the style of the poverty-stricken waif, dressed in a stark, perversely sober palette, with a face devoid of make-up. Clothes by ready-to-wear retailers such as The Gap, Banana Republic, and Eddie Bauer came to the forefront of fashion, managing to tap into the needs of women who simply wanted comfortable, wearable clothes. Retro clothing inspired by the 1960s and 1970s was popular for much of the 1990s.
The famous Italian fashion house, Gucci was created in 1921, by Guccio Gucci and was originally a firm that sold luxury leather goods. Under Guccio Gucci’s children, by the end of the 1960s the label had expanded to include a plethora of products with a distinctly Latin glamor. However, only in the 1990s, when the Gucci heirs gave up control of the company to Invest Corp., who planned to turn the business around, did it truly begin to enjoy the kind of success it enjoys in the present day. Employing an unknown designer, Tom Ford, as design director in 1994, the fashion house was endowed with a great prestige, as Ford triggered a tidal wave with his chic and shocking collections, perfumes for men and women, revamped boutiques, and advertising campaigns. In 1998 Gucci is named “European Company of the year” by European Business Press Federation. Today it is the second biggest-selling fashion brand (after LVMH) worldwide with US$7 billion worldwide of revenue in 2006 according to BusinessWeek magazine.
2000s to Present Time Fashion
The 2000s fashion are often described as being a “mash-up”, where trends saw the fusion of previous styles, global and ethnic clothing (e.g. boho), as well as the fashions of numerous music-based subcultures. Hip-hop fashion generally was the most popular among young people, followed by the unisex indie look later in the decade.
Those 25 years of age and older adopted a dressy casual style which was popular throughout the decade. Globalization also influenced the decade’s clothing trends, with the incorporation of Middle Eastern and Asian dress into mainstream European, American and Australasian fashion.Furthermore, eco-friendly and ethical clothing, such as recycled fashions and fake fur, were prominent in the decade.
In the early 2000s, many mid and late 1990s fashions remained fashionable around the globe, while simultaneously introducing newer trends. Although the 2000s did not have one particular style, they revived clothes primarily from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” —Gianni Versace
Permed hairstyles remained standard, although during the ’40s, this evolved into a bobbed roll along the lower part of the hairline.
During the Occupation, the only true way for a woman to flaunt her extravagance or add color to a drab outfit was to wear a hat. In this period, hats were often made of scraps of material that would otherwise have been thrown away, including bits of paper and wood shavings. Among the most innovative milliners of the time were Pauline Adam, Simone Naudet, Rose Valois, and Le Monnier.
Paris’s isolated situation in the 1940s enabled Americans to fully utilize the ingenuity and creativity of their own designers. During the Second World War, Vera Maxwell presented outfits constituted of plain, simply cut co-ordinates, and introduced innovations to men’s work clothes. Bonnie Cashin transformed boots into a major fashion accessory, and, in 1944, began the production of original and imaginative sportswear. Claire McCardell, Anne Klein, and Cashin formed a remarkable trio of women who laid the foundations of American sportswear, ensuring that ready-to-wear was not considered a mere second best, but an elegant and comfortable way for modern women to dress.
In the War Years, the zoot suit (and in France the zazou suit) became popular among young men.
Many actresses of the time, including Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Marlene Dietrich, had a significant impact on popular fashion.
The couturier Christian Dior created a tidal wave with his first collection in February 1947. The collection contained dresses with accentuated busts, tiny (or “wasp”) waists, and extravagantly full skirts, emphasizing the feminine hourglass figure in a manner very similar to the style of the Belle Époque. The lavish use of fabric and the feminine elegance of the designs appealed to post-war clientele, and ensured Dior’s meteoric rise to fame. The sheer sophistication of the style incited the all-powerful editor of the American Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow, to exclaim ‘This is a new look!’.
Hubert de Givenchy opened his first couture house in 1952 and created a sensation with his separates, which could be mixed and matched at will. Most renowned was his Bettina blouse made from shirting, which was named after his top model. Soon, boutiques were opened in Rome, Zurich, and Buenos Aires. A man of immense taste and discrimination, he was, perhaps more than any other designer of the period, an integral part of the world whose understated elegance he helped to define.
Pierre Balmain opened his own salon in 1945. It was in a series of collections named ‘Jolie Madame’ that he experienced his greatest success, from 1952 onwards. Balmain’s vision of the elegantly dressed woman was particularly Parisian and was typified by the tailored glamour of the “New Look”, with its ample bust, narrow waist, and full skirts, by mastery of cut and imaginative assemblies of fabrics in subtle color combinations. His sophisticated clientele was equally at home with luxurious elegance, simple tailoring, and a more natural look. Along with his haute couture work, the talented businessman pioneered a ready-to-wear range called Florilege and also launched a number of highly successful perfumes.
Also notable is the return of Coco Chanel (who detested the “New Look”) to the fashion world. Following the closure of her salons in the war years, in 1954, aged over seventy, she staged a comeback and on February 5 she presented a collection which contained a whole range of ideas that would be adopted and copied by women all over the world: her famous little braided suit with gold chains, shiny costume jewelry, silk blouses in colors that matched the suit linings, sleek tweeds, monogrammed buttons, flat black silk bows, boaters, quilted bags on chains, and evening dresses and furs that were marvels of simplicity.
The basic shape and style of the time was simple, neat, trim, and colorful. Hats had already begun their decline in the previous decade and were now almost completely extinct except for special occasions. Lower kitten heels were a pretty substitute to stilettos. Pointed toes gave way to chisel shaped toes in 1961 and to an almond toe in 1963. Flat boots also became popular with very short dresses in 1965 and eventually they rose up the leg and reached the knee.
The ’60s for the first time saw a widespread assortment of popular hairstyles, including bobs, pageboy cuts, and beehives.
Two notable and influential designers in the 1960s were Emilio Pucci and Paco Rabanne. Emilio Pucci’s sportswear designs and prints inspired by Op art, psychedelia, and medieval heraldic banners earned him a reputation that extended far beyond the circles of high society. His sleek shift dresses, tunics, and beachwear, created a ‘Puccimania’ that was all part of a movement to liberate the female form and his designs are today synonymous with the 1960s. Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo (later Paco Rabanne) opened his first couture house in 1966 and, from the start, produced resolutely modern designs. Rather than using conventional dress materials, he created garments from aluminum, Rhodoid, and pieces of scrap metal. His designs, as well as being experimental, were also closely in tune with what modern adventurous young women wanted to wear. Among his innovations are the seamless dress made, after much experiment, by spraying vinyl chloride on to a mold, and the low-budget disposable dress made of paper and nylon thread. Rabanne was also the first fashion designer to use black models, which very nearly resulted in his dismissal from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. The success of his perfume Calandre helped support the less profitable areas of his work, while his utopianism assured him a unique position in the conservative world of haute couture.
Nicknamed the ‘me’ decade; ‘please yourself’ was the catchphrase of the 1970s. Some saw it as the end of good taste. The decade began with a continuation of the hippie look of the late 1960s, with kaftans, Indian scarves, and floral-print tunics. Jeans remained frayed and bell-bottomed, tie dye was still popular, and the fashion for unisex mushroomed. An immense movement claiming civil rights for blacks combined with the influence of soul music from the USA created a nostalgia for Africa and African culture. A radical chic emerged, influenced by the likes of James Brown, Diana Ross, Angela Davis, and the Black Panthers, in everything from afro hairstyles to platform soles. During the 1970s brands greatly increased their share of the international market. Hems began dropping in 1974 to below the knee, until finally reaching the lower mid calf in 1977 and shoulderlines were dropped. After 1975, fashions came to be dominated by the “disco look” which included feathered women’s haircuts and on men, the three-piece leisure suit. Bell-bottomed pants would remain popular through the entire decade.
Perhaps the two most innovative fashion designers in 1970s France were Kenzo Takada and Sonia Rykiel. The undisputed star of Parisian fashion in the 1970s, Kenzo drew his inspiration from all over the world, mixing Western and Oriental folk influences with a fantastic joie de vivre and an instinctive understanding of what his young customers wanted. With his fluid lines, unusual prints, clever accessories, and finery that was hitherto unprecedented in ready-to-wear, he very much turned the fashion world upside down. The queen of figure-hugging knits, in 1974, Sonia Rykiel designed her first pullovers with reversed seams. However, more than that, she created a whole range of clothes that were extremely individual and yet could be worn almost anywhere. The Rykiel style, dominated by fluid knitted garments, dark blacks, rhinestones, long boa-like scarves, and little crocheted hats, conquered the American market, and even to this day Rykiel is considered by many Americans as the true successor of Chanel.
“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” —Bill Cunningham
In the 1930s, as the public began to feel the effects of the Great Depression, many designers found that crises were not the time for experimentation. Fashion became more compromising, aspiring to preserve feminism’s victories while rediscovering a subtle and reassuring elegance and sophistication. Overall, 1930s clothing was somber and modest, reflecting the difficult social and economic situation of the decade. Women’s fashions moved away from the brash, daring style of the 1920s towards a more romantic, feminine silhouette. The waistline was restored, hemlines dropped to nearly ankle-length, there was renewed appreciation of the bust, and backless evening gowns and soft, slim-fitting day dresses became popular. The female body was remodeled into a more neo-classical shape, and slim, toned, and athletic bodies came into vogue. The fashion for outdoor activities stimulated couturiers to manufacture what would today be referred to as “sportswear.” The term “ready-to-wear” was not yet widely in use, but the boutiques already described such clothes as being “for sport”. In place of the bobbed flapper haircut, the standard women’s hairstyle of the 1930s was a modest, short perm.
Two of the most prominent and influential fashion designers of the 1930s were Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet. Elsa Schiaparelli showed her first collection in 1929 and was immediately hailed by the press as ‘one of the rare innovators’ of the day. With her exciting and inventive designs, Schiaparelli did not so much revolutionize fashion as shatter its foundations. The first pullover she displayed in her windows created a sensation: it was knitted in black with a trompe-l’œil white bow. She consistently turned out notable collections thereafter. Schiaparelli was a close friend of Christian Bérard, Jean Cocteau, and Salvador Dalí, who designed embroidery motifs for her and supplied inspiration for models like the desk suit with drawers for pockets, the shoe-shaped hat, the silk dresses painted with flies and bearing a picture of a large lobster, respectively. All of Paris thronged to her salon at 21 Place Vendôme as collection succeeded collection.
Madeleine Vionnet found her inspiration in ancient statues, creating timeless and beautiful gowns that would not look out of place on a Greek frieze. Queen of the bias cut (cutting diagonally across the fabric’s lengthwise threads), she produced evening dresses that fitted the body without excessive elaboration or dissimulation, employing a flowing and elegant line. Her perfect draping of chiffon, silk, and Moroccan crêpe created a marvelously poised and sensual effect. The unparalleled success of Vionnet’s cuts guaranteed her reputation right up to her retirement in 1939.
Mainbocher, the first American designer to live and work in Paris, was also influential, with his plain yet supremely elegant designs, often employing the bias cut pioneered by Vionnet. The luxury goods manufacturer Hermès began to sell handmade printed silk square scarves in the early 1930s, in addition to popularizing the zipper and many other practical innovations. Toward the end of the decade, women’s fashions took on a somewhat more imposing and broad-shouldered silhouette, possibly influenced by Elsa Schiaparelli. Men’s fashions continued the informal, practical trend that had dominated since the end of the First World War.
” It’s not about the brand, it’s about the style. “
Soon after the First World War, a radical change came about in fashion. Bouffant coiffures gave way to short bobs, dresses with long trains gave way to above-the-knee pinafores. Corsets were abandoned and women borrowed their clothes from the male wardrobe and chose to dress like boys. Although, at first, many couturiers were reluctant to adopt the new androgynous style, they embraced them wholeheartedly from around 1925. A bustless, waistless silhouette emerged and aggressive dressing-down was mitigated by feather boas, embroidery, and showy accessories. The flapper style (known to the French as the ‘garçonne’ look) became very popular among young women. The cloche hat was widely worn and sportswear became popular with both men and women during the decade, with designers like Jean Patou and Coco Chanel popularizing the sporty and athletic look.
The great couturière Coco Chanel was a major figure in fashion at the time, as much for her magnetic personality as for her chic and progressive designs. Chanel helped popularize the bob hairstyle, the little black dress, and the use of jersey knit for women’s clothing and also elevated the status of both costume jewelry and knitwear.
Two others prominent French designers of the 1920s were Jeanne Lanvin and Jean Patou. Jeanne Lanvin, who began her career in fashion as a milliner, made such beautiful outfits for her young daughter Marguerite that people started to ask for copies, and Lanvin was soon making dresses for their mothers. Lanvin’s name appears in the fashion yearbook from about 1901 onwards. However, it was in the 1920s that she reached the peak of her popularity and success. The Lanvin style embraced the look of the time, with its skillful use of complex trimmings, dazzling embroideries, and beaded decorations in light, clear, floral colors that eventually became a Lanvin trademark. By 1925 Lanvin produced many different products, including sportswear, furs, lingerie, men’s fashion, and interior designs. Her global approach to fashion foreshadowed the schemes that all the large contemporary fashion houses would later adopt in their efforts to diversify. The style of Jean Patou was never mainstream, but full of originality and characterized by a studied simplicity which was to win him fame, particularly in the American markets. Many of his garments, with their clean lines, geometric and Cubist motifs, and mixture of luxury and practicality, were designed to satisfy the new vogue for the outdoor life, and bore a remarkable similarity to modern sportswear. The most famous advocate of his style was Suzanne Lenglen, the legendary tennis champion.
” Fashion is an art and you are the canvas. ” – Unknown
During the early years of the 1910s the fashionable silhouette became much more lithe, fluid and soft than in the 19th century. When the Ballets Russes performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910, a craze for Orientalism ensued. The couturier Paul Poiret was one of the first designers to translate this vogue into the fashion world. Poiret’s clients were at once transformed into harem girls in flowing pantaloons, turbans, and vivid colors and geishas in exotic kimono. Paul Poiret also devised the first outfit which women could put on without the help of a maid. The Art Deco movement began to emerge at this time and its influence was evident in the designs of many couturiers of the time. Simple felt hats, turbans, and clouds of tulle replaced the styles of headgear popular in the 20th century. It is also notable that the first real fashion shows were organized during this period in time, by Jeanne Paquin, one of the first female couturiers, who was also the first Parisian couturier to open foreign branches in London, Buenos Aires, and Madrid.
Two of the most influential fashion designers of the time were Jacques Doucet and Mariano Fortuny. The French designer Jacques Doucet excelled in superimposing pastel colors and his elaborate gossamery dresses suggested the Impressionist shimmers of reflected light. His distinguished customers never lost a taste for his fluid lines and flimsy, diaphanous materials. While obeying imperatives that left little to the imagination of the couturier, Doucet was nonetheless a designer of immense taste and discrimination, a role many have tried since, but rarely with Doucet’s level of success.
The Venice-based designer Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, was a curious figure, with very few parallels in any age. For his dress designs he conceived a special pleating process and new dyeing techniques. He gave the name Delphos to his long clinging sheath dresses that undulated with color. Each garment was made of a single piece of the finest silk, its unique color acquired by repeated immersions in dyes whose shades were suggestive of moonlight or of the watery reflections of the Venetian lagoon. Breton straw, Mexican cochineal, and indigo from the Far East were among the ingredients that Fortuny used. Among his many devotees were Eleonora Duse, Isadora Duncan, Cléo de Mérode, the Marchesa Casati, Émilienne d’Alençon, and Liane de Pougy.
Changes in dress during World War I were dictated more by necessity than fashion. As more and more women were forced to work, they demanded clothes that were better suited to their new activities. Social events had to be postponed in favor of more pressing engagements and the need to mourn the increasing numbers of dead, visits to the wounded, and the general gravity of the time meant that darker colors became the norm. A new monochrome look emerged that was unfamiliar to young women in comfortable circumstances. By 1915 fashionable skirts had risen above the ankle and then later to mid-calf.
” Fashion fade, style is eternal. ” – Yves Saint Laurent
1900s in fashion
The outfits worn by fashionable women of the “Belle Époque” (Belle Époque was one of the French eras) these were strikingly similar to those worn in the heyday of the fashion pioneer Charles Worth. By the end of the 19th century, the horizons of the fashion industry had generally “broadened,” partly due to the more stable and independent lifestyle many well-off women were beginning to adopt and the practical clothes they demanded. However, the fashions of the Belle Époque still retained the elaborate, upholstered style of the 19th century. The changing of fashion was unthinkable, so the use of different trimmings was all that distinguished one season from the other.
Conspicuous waste and conspicuous consumption defined the fashions of the decade and the outfits of the couturiers of the time were incredibly extravagant, ornate, and painstakingly made. The curvaceous S-Bend silhouette dominated fashion up until around 1908. The S-Bend corset was very tightly laced at the waist which forced the hips back and the drooping mono bosom was thrust forward in a pouter pigeon effect creating an S shape. Toward the end of the decade this fashionable silhouette gradually became somewhat more straight and slim, partly due to Paul Poiret’s high-waisted, shorter-skirted Directoire line of clothes.
The Maison Redfern was the first fashion house to offer women a tailored suit based directly on its male counterpart and the extremely practical and soberly elegant garment soon became an indispensable part of the wardrobe of any well-dressed woman