Sunday, January 13, 2013

READing Your Style: Survey of Historic Costume (Part 1)

Vogue Editors, past and present. From Left: Jade Hobson, Babs Simpson, Phyllis Posnik, Carlyne Cerf de Duzdeele, Polly Mellen, Grace Coddington, Camilla Nickerson, Tonne Goodman
Last month, Vogue Magazine celebrated the magazine's 120th anniversary by releasing a documentary on HBO entitled, IN VOGUE: The Editor's Eye. In my fashion, it was an intriguing and insightful look into the world of Vogue, and thusly, the world of fashion. Vogue plays an integral part in the coverage of fashion history, and the influence of fashion trends. For me, I loved the film because it explained in detail certain paramount photo shoots that have produced some of the most controversial fashion images in American history, giving us a voyeuristic view of a half century of modern fashion—modern fashion which tells us so much about the past. 

Vogue’s new book,
“The Editor’s Eye,”
After watching the it I have gone to the library to view these photos in the magazine with my own eyes in the archived editions of Vogue, photographs of which I have accompanying this three part series. Last year, VogueArchives went live for individuals and businesses to gain access to every single issue of Vogue dating back to it's debut in 1892. For individual access it is $3,250 yearly subscription, so for now the library will suffice. I've been able to view the October 15, 1966 issue of Vogue that contained Polly Mellen's "The Great Fur Caravan" story shot by Richard Avedon, and the December 1966 issue that contained the beautiful spread set in India as described by Paris Editor, Susan Train, and  shot by, Henry Clarke. As I myself flipped through the pages, I could just imagine being alive during those time periods of which I was reading,  and receiving my issue of Vogue, feeling as though I was being completely transported through a whirlwind of fabulous world. In my fashion, looking through a magazine and that magic as you physically turn the pages of a fashion magazine is the best aspect of fashion to me. In my fashion, going into the year 2013, now that technology is this generations way of experiencing fashion, I feel it's important to retain this feeling in all that we do no matter how fast or digital we get. As Andre Leon Talley has said, "Be inspired  by the past, but its so important to move forward."

All the international Vogue editors gathered together in Japan this week for the country's first-ever Fashion's Night Out
As I had said in my Editor's Letter, I took a Fashion History class in college that taught me, not just about what was worn by civilization's past, but WHY people worn the things they wore, and WHY we may wear certain things a certain way today; WHAT were differences in demographic tastes, and WHY different people of today like what they like; WHO wore certain pieces, and for WHAT reasons do certain people wear what they wear now; WHERE certain looks were worn, etc. As I mentioned last month, this generation is one that does not look to conform to traditional social constructs, and fashion is influenced, and embraced by many different cultures. The whole way that we look at fashion has shifted dramatically in time, and now that fashion is so fast now its important not to forget the past in the process of moving forward. I aim to look more into this month by sharing my drawings and what I learned in my fashion teachings. For my drawings I took inspiration from the textbook, Survey of Historic Costume by Tortora and Eubank. Stylist and editors create what's next, understanding the history of certain clothes is important because as the saying goes, "those who do not know their history, are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past."

The Ancient Middle East (3500 - 600 B.C.)

"The Mediterranean basin possesses a warm climate in which draped clothing is more comfortable than fitted clothing. The oldest textile discovered was linenWith a few notable exceptions, garments of the region consisted of a draped length of square, rectangular, or semicircular fabric. When fastening was required, these draped garments were closed with pins or by sewing...These draped garments can be further subdivided into loincloths, skirts, tunics, shawls, cloaks, and veils. The skirt, in the ancient world, began at the  waist or slightly below and hung loosely around the body. Skirts were worn by both men and women and varied inn the earliest period these were probably made of sheepskin with the fleece still attached (known as a kaunakes)...Tunics were simple one-piece and often T-shaped garments with openings for the head and arms. Tunics were usually long enough to cover the torso and, like skirts, were made in many different lengths..."

Ancient Sumerian Women
Ancient Egyptian Women

These sketches are based off costume of royal Ancient Sumerian and Egyptian women. The Sumerian women wears a kaunake that has been dyed green, and decorated with a yellow fringe.  She wears a tunic underneath her kaunake, and as one can see, the end of the draped fabric comes over her left shoulder. She wears elaborate jewelry: an elaborate gold and jeweled crown and necklace, with gold bracelets. 

The Egyptian women wears a closely fitted sheath dress with a wide, faience collar. Over top of her dress, I would fashion her with a bead-net dress that would add extra decoration to her white linen dress. She too wears a gold crown.

If you notice the following photographs below that come from issues of Vogue from 1965, Egypt was a heavy influence as far as what was considered à la mode at the time. These photos come from the October 1, 1965 issue, when Vogue was published bi-monthly. The first two photos taken in the ancient city of Jeresh in the country of Jordan, just northeast of Egypt, reflect a free and liberated women, especially in the context of what was occurring at the time as women transitioned from The New Look. Chanel's cardigan-style suit was back. The sixties was a time of movements: college student protests, civil rights, environmental, and hippie movements. Feminism was at an all time high as changes in the American family were occurring where divorce rates were up and marriage was down. Women became heads of households forcing them into the work force, Roe v. Wade on abortion, "the pill", and the rise of style tribes and street style changed the way the fashion system operates. The Mods, the Hippies, punk rockers, and "Black Pride", became prominent style tribes, as well as the adoption of jeans as a symbol of solidarity with working people. 

Vogue, October 1, 1965, "Match Me Such Marvel! A Rhapsody on Middle Eastern Times
 shot by Henry Clarke at Jeresh, in Jordan

After World War II, fashionable dress might be compared to a tree trunk that continually divided into more and more branches, each branch representing a different segment of the buying public...In the mid-1960's, after becoming established in the haute couture, most of these designers expanded in the direction of ready-to-wear (or as the French call it, prêt-à-porter)...Violation of established norms in dress can cause individuals or groups to feel threatened, especially if the "radical" new styles are adopted by groups that question existing social values or seek to challenge the status quo...Design inspiration came from a variety of sources such as India, from traditional Eastern European folk costume, and from the aforementioned African-inspired styles. 

Vogue, October 1, 1965, "Match Me Such Marvel! A Rhapsody on Middle Eastern Times shot by Henry Clarke at Jeresh, in Jordan

For the first years of the decade of the 1960's, styles showed some uncertainty. Skirts shorted gradually, a trend that had begun in the late 1950's...Gradually short-knee in the United States in 1966. The term miniskirt was coined to describe these skirts, and the term micro mini was applied to the shortest of the short skirts...By the end of the 1960's, the fashion industry introduced the maxi, a full-length style, and the midi (the longuette), a skirt that ended  about mid-calf. However, these styles were not widely worn, and the transition to new length and silhoiette was still several years away in the mid-1970's. 

Vogue, October 1, 1965, "The Sweet Success: Silk at Night" shot by Gordon Parks 

Some of the fashion developments in the late 1960's and the 1970's have been viewed as symbolic of changes in women's roles. Examples cited are the acceptance, especially by young people, of garments for men and women that are similar such as blue jeans and T-shirts and pantsuits, which became an important component of women's wardrobes in the 1970's, and the changes in undergarments...One of the ideas described as central to the Mod fashion concept was the notion that males as well as females were entitled to wear handsome and dashing clothing. The Mod fashion statement was "elegance, long hair, granny glasses, and Edwardian finery".

Vogue, October 1, 1965, "The Sweet Success: Silk at Night" shot by Gordon Parks 

Political leaders often became style leaders. Mrs. Kennedy became a major influence on styles. The press paid close attention to her inaugural ball gown. Bouffant hairstyles, pillbox hats, A-line skirts, low-slung pumps, empire style evening dresses, and wraparound sunglasses were some styles associated with her...In the years since this radical alteration was made in the operation of some of the couture houses, the Paris pret-a-porter group has become so important that the fashion press goes to Paris not only for the regular shows of the haute couture but also for the opening of the pret-a-porter collections. The successful  ready-to-wear industry in the United States had provided a model for a new business venture for the French couture designers. In turn, the pret-a-porter provided a new source of fashion ideas for the American fashion industry. 

Mediterranean Women
Egyptian Women
    For my designs of an #IMFblog Post-modern Women, variations in skirt lengths are mixed with the ethnic design inspirations of the ancient Middle Mast. The Mediterranean women wears a mini skirt with similar detail to the above kaunake. Instead of a basic tunic, I designed a more feminine tank top that incorporates the over the shoulder wrap design of their draped garments. She wears gold stilettos for a opulent edge, and simple gold jewelry accentuate her natural beauty which which work well for an easy elegance needed in the hot climate of the region. 
      The Egyptian women wears a maxi-styled dress, that is very body hugging and sumptuous. As far as the feathered wing design, I was inspired by the Egyptian's use of symbolism in that a Hawk was a prominent symbol of the sun God. Imagine being safely secure in the wings of a mother hawk whose wings wrap comfortably around your entire body. Elegant birds are often associated with beautiful women, so what more prefect way to reflect that in your look and paint that picture clearly for onlookers. 

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