Thursday, April 18, 2013

READing Your Style: Vogue Fashion (Part 1)

What decade do you favor most? In my fashion, it fascinates me how different women looked in each decade. In the past century the rate at which the general look of women have changed has been the speediest process of any era in the past. In America fashion changes have mostly been the result of a stance women were taking at the time, each decade more empowering than the next. In the past, the way a women dressed often dictated how that women was treated by others. In the past 100 years women and fashion have taken stances that have freed women from a misogynistic past, where the women of today are able to be more creative than ever, free to explore who they are and what they want to be. 

I love thinking about clothes and where they came from; where a certain look originated; what that look stood for. In my fashion, using history as inspiration is the basis for a solid look. Vogue Fashion by Linda Watson is one of the books I had started studying in March. I chose to look at how Vogue saw how women saw themselves, highlighting social movements and more importantly - what was worn during these movements. I was so inspired by how women dressed, I choose to do some sketching myself to illustrate the type of women Vogue highlighted in the magazine, images which shaped the image of a women with style for each decade. In my fashion sketching helps one to understand how a women would feel in a garment. You understand why a women would feel beautiful in a particular look, and why they wear what they wore. I drew twenty sketches, two for each decade from 1900 - 2000. Next to the sketch describes what were the changes in fashion reported by Vogue. Hopefully my sketches burn into your memory so you can use it as inspiration one day when you are getting dressed.

1900-1909: Edwardian body (rotund breasts, a hand span waist, accentuated hips and a protruding posterior)
  • During the Belle Époque, fashion divided into two types of women: those who wore corsets and those who didn’t. Oscar Wilde was a principal advocate of eliminating corsets
  • Fashion industry in its infancy. Paris = undisputed instigator of every fashion revolution. Only 5 notable names: Callot Soeurs, Madeline Chéruit, Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Lanvin, Charles Worth
  • Fashion didn’t spring from shows, but from the French Race Courses – Longchamp, Auteuil. Smart fashions at the French races were the equivalent of the catwalk, where new looks were aired, analyzed, and then reported about. Majority of women had clothes made to measure. Only a small percent of Vogue’s readership had access to Paris.
  • Poise was an important consideration. “The manner in which women sit down in their present day gowns deserves to be an object of special study on the parts of all persons.” (Women were standing up by the end of the decade.)
  • Edwardian dressing was exhausting and confined to strict rules of propriety. Practicality started to creep into Vogue’s vocabulary.
  • 1909: Vogue became more concerned with highlighting movements than protecting readers from fashion faus pas.
  • DEFINING PIECES: boas, feathers, pneumatic dress form (inflated to appropriate size by using bicycle pump), hats were elaborate, hair expanded, orientalism crept in (i.e. turbans), Ballet Russes
1910-1919: In April 1911 Vogue started talking about trousers. With a new decade, designers were producing clothes that were kick-started by the new issues of practicality and necessity. In an age of static beauty, activity had been unthinkable.
  • Sportswear was gaining momentum with the decline of the horse.
  • Advertised the tango brassieres/ tango shoes
  • Paul Poiret’s hobble skirt
  • Impeccably bred dogs in exclusive varieties were the new fashion accessory. Pekingese, Boston bull, Maltese terrier, Yorkshire terrier, French Bull Terrier
  • Designers start to travel to customers
  • Fashion had always followed a single line; how it was careering in different directions. Radical changes occurred seasonally.
  • World War I (1914): October, Pairs under siege
  • Vogue’s focus switch emphasis from reporting and discussing to predicting and defining
  • DEFINING PIECES: new corset, ‘The Debutante Slouch’, lingerie (in daylight), clouche hat, use of jersey, androgynous dressing
1920-1929: Fashion was no longer the sum of the parts, but a Rubik cube with endless permutations.
  • Women were now borrowing cufflinks and brandishing cigarette holders, but still wondering whether to bare their arms in daylight.
  • No longer hesitant and monotone, editorial content was spiced with humor and comment, analysis and predictions … Style was defined with absolute precision.
  • “Modern” was the new word replacing “mode”. 1929: The Duchesse D’Ayen stated that “The modern ideal of loveliness is not a passive one. Statuesque beauty is out of date.”
  • Vogue 1st fashion shoot “A Group of Paris Frocks that Posed for Vogue”, November 1920. Fashion was now as much about the basic ingredients—fabrics and color, length and shape—as poise and attitude.
  • The freedom to sit and stand at whim was a novelty. Simplicity was a modern concept, and fashion was mesmerized by it.
  • Otto Weininger, psychologist, “Women do the same work as men and play the same games. And until they cease doing so the present tendency in their clothes is likely to continue.”
  • They were unsure about what to wear in front of a typewriter.
  • Hats echoed the shape of hair—simple bob—1923(shingle)
  • DEFINING PIECES: Straight lines, bobbed hair, flat breasts, boyish bodies, “Slip-on” frocks, chemise frocks, elegant accessories, trousers, pyjamas (Poiret)—sleeping, lounging, beach. Women were not simply adopting male attire; they had actively invaded their territory.
1930-1939: Film gave fashion an animated glamour that was impossible to stimulate on paper. Vogue juggled issues of innovations and ideas with Paris on the one hand and Hollywood on the other. Paris inspired by the technique and tradition. Hollywood by scripts/ screen beauties—both worked on the principals of illusion.
  • Surrealist movement - a circle of artists and writers who worked on Freudian principals. “A Surrealist is a man who likes to dress like a fencer, but does not fence; a Surrealist is also a man who likes to wear a diving suit, but does not dive.” Surrealist movement influenced fashion shoots.
  • Masculine influences filtered through Paris.
  • 1937: the word “sex appeal” is first used. Sequins are also developed.
  • No longer smart to be boyish. You must be the essence of romance at evening.
  • DEFINING PIECES: The exaggerated shoulder (Coat-hanger silhouette), Schiaparelli ‘buttons’, zip fastener (zipper), Hats, sequins
1940-1949: Before the outbreak of the war, fashion was elitist and escapist. Now, clothes were part of the rallying cry for unity. After decades of free reign and prolonged periods of decadence, the fashion industry had to be creative with the constraints of economic responsibility and social rules. The new words of the times—austerity, rational, and utility.
  • Women were in uniform
  • 1941: rationing of cloth, clothing, and footwear
  • 1942: “The New Look” as described in Vogue, Dressiness is démodé. It is wrong to look wealthy. Understatement has a chic denied to overemphasis.”
  • Necessity became the mother of invention.
  • NYLON is developed.
  • As the war progressed, Vogue’s tone became more urgent and dictatorial.
  • In October 1942 fashion and politics were firm allies. Austerity with a glamorous ingredient was called, “Fashionable Intelligence” by Vogue.
  • Because fabric had to be preserved at all costs, the emphasis was firmly on accessories.
  • The war signaled the beginning of an international attitude to fashion.
  • In January 1947, Vogue witnesses the most extreme shift in fashion since 1910. Christian Dior had become the new name in Paris. Vogue described the detail of his revolutionary New Look: His ‘wide waistband and, whittling the waist, the deeply, widely cut bodice.’ Launched in an atmosphere of austerity/oppression, the general consensus on Dior’s collection was one of absolute moral outrage. Vogue, however, voted it a feat of unparalleled perfection.
  • DEFINING PIECES: Hourglass silhouette, lots of fabric, back-dipping skirts, gamine haircut, deep décolletages, starched Eton collars on dinner suits, nylon pieces, wooden soled shoes, big bags, cocktail suits

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