Thursday, January 24, 2013

READing Your Style: Survey of Historic Costume (Part 2)

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.

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 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."

Ancient Greece and Rome (1100 B.C. - 400 A.D.)

The garment called the tunic heretofore was called a chiton by the Greeks…Full-length chitons were woven to the same size no matter how tall or short the person was to wear the garment….over the chiton Greek men and women placed shawls and cloaks…Greek art and literature indicate that the chiton underwent a number of changes over time; variations in the type of chitons worn by men and women occurred at various times between 800-300 B.C (i.e. chitoniskos, doric peplos, ionic, doric, hellenistic, and exomis chitons)…In the Archaic period, women wore their hair long in curling tresses with small curls arranged around the face. In the classical period, it was pulled into a knot or chignon at the back of the head...Fillets, scarves, ribbons, and caps were used to confine the hair.

The tunic was the basic garment for women in Rome and had much the same appearance as the Greek chiton. It served as a night dress and was worn alone in the privacy of the home….A draped shawl was placed over the outer tunic ; for outdoor wear women wrapped themselves in cloaks…Roman literary sources speak of the stola as a garment reserved for free, married women (a most sought after status for women at the time)…Roman writers ridiculed the custom of elaborately dressing the hair…women’s hairstyles become simplified, with braids or locks doubled up in back and pinned to the top of the head…instead of hats, women tended to pull the palla or scarf over the head, wearing fillets and coronets.

Ancient Greek Woman
Ancient Roman

The sketch to the right depicts a Grecian women wearing a Hellenistic chiton, belted beneath the bosom and made out of silk. The hair is pulled back into a knot with small curls around the face.

The sketch to the left depicts a Roman women tunic in an under tunic and a palla. Her hair is pulled back into an intricate braid. She wears a simple gold bracelet and earrings.

The reason why I compare the 1970’s to the Ancient Greek and Roman periods is because this was a period where the word for women, was “FREER”. With more women working and becoming independent, The New York Times declared that women had the right to wear any length dress they choose. With ready to wear collections becoming more prevalent, fashion was more accessible to consumers than ever before. By the mid-70’s clothes had become much more relaxed and fluid, with the Paris couture houses reporting in the Times in 1978 that “length was not much of an issue” and that most designers were covering the knee. As in Ancient Greek and Roman times, dresses were draped, long and languid, a fitting look for a time when social movements were yielding positive results.

Vouge, February 1977, "Hair and Make-Up News" 
The longuette, coming to mid-calf length, was a sharp change from the mini and micro-miniskirts being worn at the time. Although the stores stocked large numbers of midi skirts, the majority of women either continued to wear short skirts and also some of the full-length skirts, called maxi skirts, or some version of pants. Long pants were worn as part of pantsuits, for casual wear, and for formal evening dress. Knickers were popular, as were gaucho pants. Some young women wore very short shorts, called hot pants by Women’s Wear Daily.

Vogue,  March 1977, "Look What's Happening to Skirts" 
In spite of the resistance to the midi and the continuation of mini as fashionable dress, mainstream fashions continued to evolve. The prevalent silhouette of the mid- and later 1970s has been described by fashion writers as “fluid,” “an easier and more casual fit.” At the same time the use of softer fabrics molded the body and displayed body curves. An emphasis on fitness made the long, lean, trim, and well-exercised body the ideal of feminine beauty.

Vogue, May 1977, "Summer Changes: The differences for town" shot by Bob Richardson
In 1973 fashion writers spoke of a “classic revival.” Most dresses were belted or had clearly defined waistlines. Lines were soft, with shaping that followed and revealed the body contours. By mid-decade skirts had lengthened, and often flared gradually from waist to hem...By mid-1970s and after, skirts had more fullness, tended to flare out and covered the knee by at least several inches.

Vogue, June 1977, "The New Un-Dressing Dressing" shot by Arthur Elgort
Skirts that wrapped around the body and tied into place and the swirl skirt, made from bias-cut strips of multi-colored fabrics that were often from India, were part of the ethnic styles that appeared periodically.

Vogue, March 1977, "The Scarf is It—Tie it, You'll Like It" shot by Richard Avedon
For most of the 70s, blouses were of soft fabrics, often knit. Shoulder lines followed the natural curve of the shoulder. Many knit tops fell somewhere between a blouse and a sweater. Short or long-sleeved, made of narrow ribbed knits, they fit the body closely and ended a short distance below the waistline.

Vogue, February 1977, "The Mood has Changed—The Best of New York Collections" shot by Irving Penn
The film “Annie Hall” (1978) had a strong impact on current fashion. It helped to popularize not only the combination of layers of separates, including the aforementioned large shirts worn with men’s vests, but also pantsuits, and men’s hats for women.

Grecian Woman
Roman Woman
If the look to the left doesn't say "FREER" I don't know what does. This airy garment is based off a Grecian women's chlamydon, in which the pleated band raps around the body and forms a short pleated skirt. A light, but rigid, transparent skirt comes from under the skirt pleats and ends above the knee. This is my modern interpretation of a Grecian inspired dress that could very well be worn now, or in the 70's. A risque look that reveals the contours of the body with light pleats that cover in all the right places which would hang lightly off the girl and flow gracefully as she walked. 

The sketch to the right is also form fitting and curve revealing. The black jumper is my version of a body hugging under tunic in which the slouchy knit skirt and hood are representative of the stola and palla of which Roman women commonly wore. Covered from head to toe, contrary to the draped looks of the matriarch's of Roman society, this layered winter look emphasizes a "fit" womens curves so prevalent in the look of women in the 1970s.

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