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L’Histoire de Mode

L’Histoire de Mode~Fashion Photography

 

 

Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione in a photo by Pierre-Louise Pierson (c. 1863/66)

 

Fashion Photography

 

Fashion photography is a genre of photography devoted

to displaying clothing and other fashion items. Fashion photography

is most often conducted for advertisements or fashionmagazines such

as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Allure. Over time, fashion photography has

developed its own aesthetic in which the clothes and fashions are

enhanced by the presence of exotic locations or accessories.

Photography was developed in the 1830s, but the earliest popular technique, the

daguerreotype, was unsuitable for mass printing. In 1856, Adolphe Braun

published a book containing 288 photographs of Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione,

a Tuscan noblewoman at the court of Napoleon III. The photos depict her in her

official court garb, making her the first fashion model.

In the first decade of the 20th century, advances in

halftone printing allowed fashion photographs to be featured

in magazines. Fashion photography made its first appearance in

French magazines such as La mode practique. In 1909, Condé Nast took

over Vogue magazine and also contributed to the beginnings of fashion

photography. In 1911, photographer Edward Steichen was “dared” by

Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazette du Bon Ton,

to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography. Steichen

then took photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret.

These photographs were published in the April 1911 issue of

the magazine Art et Décoration. According to Jesse Alexander,

This is “…now considered to be the first ever modern fashion

photography shoot. That is, photographing the garments in such

a way as to convey a sense of their physical quality as well as

their formal appearance, as opposed to simply illustrating the object.”

At this time, special emphasis was placed on staging the shots, a process

first developed by Baron Adolf de Meyer, who shot his models in natural

environments and poses. Vogue was followed by its rival, Harper’s Bazaar, and

the two companies were leaders in the field of fashion photography throughout

the 1920s and 1930s. House photographers such as Edward Steichen,

George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton transformed

the genre into an outstanding art form. Europe, and especially

Germany, was for a short time the leader

in fashion photography.

But now with that change in time every country has taken

considerable measures to promote the field of photography.

In the mid 1940s as World War II approached, the focus

shifted to the United States, where Vogue and Harper’s continued

their old rivalry. House photographers such as Irving Penn,

Martin Munkacsi, Richard Avedon, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe would

shape the look of fashion photography for the following decades.

Richard Avedon revolutionized fashion photography — and redefined

the role of the fashion photographer — in the post-World War II era

with his imaginative images of the modern woman. Today, his work is being

exhibited in the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, FL. This exhibition features

more than 200 works and spans Avedon’s entire career, including vintage

prints, contact sheets, and original magazines from Harper’s Bazaar,

Vogue and The New Yorker.

The artists abandoned their rigid forms for a much freer style. In 1936,

Martin Munkacsi made the first photographs of models in sporty poses at the beach.

Under the artistic direction of Alexey Brodovitch, the Harper’s

Bazaar quickly introduced this new style into its magazine.

In postwar London, John French pioneered a new form

of fashion photography suited to reproduction in

newsprint, involving where possible reflected

natural light and low contrast.

After the deaths of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts,

some of today’s most famous fashion photographers are Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel,

Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh and Annie Leibovitz.


L’Histoire de Mode~Fabric Burn Testing

BURN TESTING

Burn Test – CAUTION. WARNING. BE CAREFUL!

This should only be done by skilled burners! Make sure there is a bucket of water nearby and that you burn in a metal bucket or non-plastic sink.

What it is & how to do it:

To identify fabric that is unknown, a simple burn test can be

done to determine if the fabric is a natural fiber, manmade fiber,

or a blend of natural and manmade fibers. The burn test is used by

many fabric stores and designers and takes practice to determine the

exact fiber content. However, an inexperienced person can still determine

the difference between many fibers to “narrow” the choices down to natural

or manmade fibers. This elimination process will give information

necessary to decide the care of the fabric.

It’s important to do a burn test in a well ventilated area to avoid inhaling potentially toxic fumes. At minimum, open some windows, or better yet, do the test outside on a calm day and avoid inhaling the fumes from the burning fibers.

 

• Pre-wash the mystery fabric to remove
any finishes that may affect the burn
characteristics. Cut fabric swatches for
testing approximately 2″ square.
• Use long tweezers to hold the swatches
you burn.
• Use a non-flammable container to place
under the burning swatch—a large
ashtray or glass dish will work, as will a
metal baking pan.
• Use a lighter, an unscented candle or a
fireplace starter to create a small flame.
• Keep water nearby in the event of a
flare-up, or do the testing near a sink.
• If you have long hair, tie it back out of
the way of the flame.

WARNING: All fibers will burn! Asbestos treated fibers are, for the most

part fire proof. The burning test should be done with caution. Use a small piece

of fabric only. Hold the fabric with tweezers, not your fingers. Burn over a metal dish with

soda in the bottom or even water in the bottom of the dish. Some fabrics will ignite and melt.

The result is burning drips which can adhere to fabric

or skin and cause a serious burn.

Cotton is a plant fiber. When ignited it burns with a steady flame

and smells like burning leaves. The ash left is easily crumbled.

Small samples of burning cotton can be blown out as you would

a candle. Cotton fibers ignite as the flame draws near.

Linen is also a plant fiber but different from cotton in that the

individual plant fibers which make up the yarn are long where cotton fibers

are short. Linen takes longer to ignite. The fabric closest to the ash is very brittle.

Linen is easily extinguished by blowing on it as you would a candle.

Silk is a protein fiber and usually burns readily, not

necessarily with a steady flame, and smells like burning

hair. The ash is easily crumbled. Silk samples are not

as easily extinguished as cotton or linen.

Wool is also a protein fiber but is harder to ignite than silk as the individual

“hair” fibers are shorter than silk and the weave of the fabrics is generally looser

than with silk. The flame is steady but more difficult to keep burning. The smell

of burning wool is like burning hair.

Man Made Fibers

(Synthetic fibers curl away from the heat and tend to “melt.” Hard lumps are the remains of melted synthetic fibers.)

Acetate is made from cellulose (wood fibers), technically cellulose

acetate. Acetate burns readily with a flickering flame that cannot be

easily extinguished. The burning cellulose drips and leaves a hard ash.

The smell is similar to burning wood chips.

Acrylic technically acrylonitrile is made from natural gas

and petroleum. Acrylics burn readily due to the fiber content and the

lofty, air filled pockets. A match or cigarette dropped on an acrylic blanket

can ignite the fabric which will burn rapidly unless extinguished.

The ash is hard. The smell is acrid or harsh.

Nylon is a polyamide made from petroleum. Nylon melts

and then burns rapidly if the flame remains on the melted

fiber. If you can keep the flame on the

melting nylon, it smells like burning plastic.

Polyester is a polymer produced from coal, air, water, and petroleum products.

Polyester melts and burns at the same time, the melting, burning ash can bond

quickly to any surface it drips on including skin. The smoke from polyester

is black with a sweetish smell. The

extinguished ash is hard.

Rayon is a regenerated cellulose fiber which is almost pure cellulose.

Rayon burns rapidly and leaves only a slight ash.

The burning smell is close to burning leaves.

Blends consist of two or more fibers and, ideally, are supposed to take on the

characteristics of each fiber in the blend. The burning test

can be used but the fabric content

will be an assumption.

Household Chemicals

Several chemicals usually found in the home can help further identify fabrics. As in the burn test, caution should be used. Reactions between some of the fibers and household chemicals are rapid and could cause damage to surrounding surfaces.

Acetate is dissolved by acetone, an ingredient in nail polish remover and Super Glue. Caution should be used when wearing acetate or an acetate blend fabric and using any acetone containing product.

Fiber-Etch, a liquid used in embroidery or cutwork embroidery, dissolves any plant fiber including cotton, linen, and rayon. Since this product removes plant fibers, it is also useful to determine fabric content. With blends of plant fiber fabrics, the blended fibers will remain. For example, a cotton/polyester fabric will, when this product is applied to a small area, remove the cotton fiber and leave the polyester fiber.

REMEMBER:

FABRIC FLAME
QUALITY
ODOR ASH
QUALITY
COMMENTS
WOOL orange color
sputtery
burning hair
or feathers
blackish
turns to powder
when crushed
flame will self extinguish
if flame source is removed
no smoke
SILK burns slowly burning hair
or feathers
grayish
turns to powder
when crushed
burns more easily than wool
but will self extinguish is flame
source removed
COTTON yellow to orange color
steady flame
burning paper
or leaves
grayish, fluffy slow burning ember
LINEN yellow to orange color
steady flame
burning paper
or leaves
similar to cotton takes longer to ignite than cotton but otherwise very similar
RAYON fast orange flame burning paper
or leaves
almost no ash ember will continue to glow after flame source removed
POLYESTER orange flame, sputtery sweet or fruity smell hard shiny  black bead black smoke
ACETATE burns and melts,sizzly acidic or vinegary hard black bead will continue to burn after flame source removed
NYLON burns slowly and melts,  bluse base and orange tip, no smoke burning celery hard grayish or brownish bead self extinguish if flame source removed
ACRYLIC burns and melts, white-orange tip, no smoke acrid black hard crust will continue to burn after flame source removed

Fiber Burn Chart

I know this isn’t the normal Fashion History segment, but it’s a helpful technique for the most part plus it’s fun to experiment with burn testing, fiber Etching, and dying using tomato soup or anything really. BE SAFE & Have fun!


L’Histoire de Mode~Haute Couture

Haute Couture

Haute couture (French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking”) refers to the creation

of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer,

and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention

to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using

time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture is a common abbreviation

of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit.

It originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth’s

work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. In modern

France, haute couture is a “protected name” that can be used

only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. However,

the term is also used loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted

clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or in other fashion capitals such as

Milan, London, New York and Tokyo.

In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by

the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris based in Paris, France.

Their rules state that only “those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year

by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves”

of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and

updated in 1992. To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term

haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the

Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules:

  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  • Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  • Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

However, the term haute couture may have been misused by

ready-to-wear brands since the late 1980s, so that its true meaning

may have become blurred with that of prêt-à-porter (the French term for

ready-to-wear fashion) in the public perception. Every haute couture house also

markets prêt-à-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment

than their custom clothing . Falling revenues have forced a few couture

houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate

solely on the less prestigious prêt-à-porter. These houses, such as

Italian designer Roberto Capucci, all of whom have their

workshops in Italy, are no longer

considered haute couture.

Many top designer fashion houses, such as Chanel, use the word for

some of their special collections. These collections are often not for sale or they

are very difficult to purchase. Sometimes, “haute couture” is inappropriately used to

label non-dressmaking activities, such as fine art, music and more.

French leadership in European fashion may date from the

18th century, when the art, architecture, music, and fashions

of the French court at Versailles were imitated across Europe. Visitors

to Paris brought back clothing that was then copied by local dressmakers.

Stylish women also ordered fashion dolls dressed in the latest Parisian fashion

to serve as models. As railroads and steamships made European travel easier,

it was increasingly common for wealthy women to travel to Paris to shop for clothing

and accessories. French fitters and dressmakers were commonly thought to be the best

in Europe, and real Parisian garments were considered better than local imitations.

The couturier Charles Frederick Worth (October 13, 1826–March 10, 1895),

is widely considered the father of haute couture as it is known today. Although

born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England, Worth made his mark in the French

fashion industry. Revolutionizing how dressmaking had been previously perceived,

Worth made it so the dressmaker became the artist of garnishment: a fashion designer.

While he created one-of-a-kind designs to please some of his titled or wealthy customers,

he is best known for preparing a portfolio of designs that were shown on live models at the

House of Worth. Clients selected one model, specified colors and fabrics, and had a

duplicate garment tailor-made in Worth’s workshop. Worth combined individual

tailoring with a standardization more characteristic of the ready-to-wear clothing industry,

which was also developing during this period.

Following in Worth’s footsteps were Callot Soeurs, Patou,

Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli,

Balenciaga, and Dior. Some of these fashion houses still exist today, under

the leadership of modern designers.

In the 1960s a group of young designers who had trained under

men like Dior and Balenciaga left these established couture houses and opened their

own establishments. The most successful of these young designers were Yves Saint Laurent,

Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges, and Emanuel Ungaro. Japanese native and Paris-based

Hanae Mori was also successful in establishing her own line.

Lacroix is one of the fashion houses to have been started in

the late 20th century. Other new houses have included Jean-Paul Gaultier

and Thierry Mugler. Due to the high expenses of producing haute couture

collections, Lacroix and Mugler have since ceased

their haute couture activities.

For all these fashion houses, custom clothing is no longer the main source of

income, often costing much more than it earns through direct sales; it only adds the a

ura of fashion to their ventures in ready-to-wear clothing and related luxury products

such as shoes and perfumes, and licensing ventures that earn greater

returns for the company. Excessive commercialization and profit-making can be

damaging, however. Cardin, for example, licensed with abandon in the 1980s and his name

lost most of its fashionable cachet when anyone could buy Cardin luggage at a discount store.

It is their ready-to-wear collections that are available to a wider audience, adding a

splash of glamour and the feel of haute

couture to more wardrobes.

The 1960s also featured a revolt against established fashion

standards by mods, rockers, and hippies, as well as an increasing

internationalization of the fashion scene. Jet travel had spawned a jet set

that partied—and shopped—just as happily in New York as in Paris. Rich women

no longer felt that a Paris dress was necessarily better than one sewn elsewhere.

While Paris is still pre-eminent in the fashion world, it is no

longer the sole arbiter of fashion.

Couture Samples:


“Fashion Fairy Tale”~Lauren Milligan

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty, cover

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty

Lacroix Sleeping Beauty

L auren  Milligan                                                                                       04 February 2011

CHRISTIAN LACROIX’S biography was never going to be captured in a simple, step-by-step story, so author Camilla Morton has woven it in to a fairy tale: Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty, illustrated by Lacroix himself.

“The book is a tale of two icons,” Morton told us. “Both well loved, both inspiring, and both living in magical kingdoms. I came up with the idea as I didn’t think a dry biography seemed an interesting prospect, nor could it hope to capture the mystique that surrounds the creative souls that punctuate the industry with their imagination. I thought the best way to tell their tales would be as a very special ‘Once Upon a Time’.”

Lacroix’s is the first in a series of designer biographies-cum-fairy- tales, written by Morton and illustrated by the designer – with Manolo Blahnik and Diane von Furstenberg to follow. “Its magical,” Morton said of her relationship with Lacroix. “He is a gentleman, and such a kind, inspiring friend, I feel honoured I was able to do this with him.”

Read more about the book in the March issue of Vogue, out now.


L’Histore de Mode~Codpiece

 

Metal Codpieces, 16th Century

 

Codpiece

A codpiece (from Middle English: cod, meaning “scrotum”) is a

covering flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of

men’s trousers and usually accentuates the genital area. It was held

closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. It was an important item

of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries, and is still worn in the

modern era in performance costumes for rock music and metal musicians and

in the leather subculture.

From the ancient world there are extant depictions of the codpiece; for example,

archaeological recovery at Minoan Knossos on Crete has yielded figurines, some of which

are clad in codpieces. Most of what is objectively known about the cut, fit, and materials

of Renaissance clothing is learned from realistic portraits, clothing inventories, descriptive

receipts for payments of artifacts, or tailors’ cutting guides.In the 14th century, men’s

hose were two separate legs worn over linen drawers, leaving a man’s genitals covered only by a

layer of linen. As the century wore on and men’s hemlines rose, the hose became longer and

joined at the centre back but remained open at the centre front. The shortening of the cote

or doublet resulted in under-disguised genitals, so the codpiece began life as a

triangular piece of fabric covering the gap.

As time passed, codpieces became shaped and padded to

emphasize rather than to conceal, reaching their peak of size

and decoration in the 1540s before falling out of use by the 1590s.

Armor of the 16th century followed civilian fashion, and for a time

armored codpieces were a prominent addition to the best full harnesses.

A few of these are on display in museums today: the Metropolitan Museum

of Art in New York City has one, as does the Higgins Armory in Worcester,

Massachusetts; the armour of Henry VIII in the Tower of London has a

codpiece. In later periods, the codpiece became an object of the derision

showered on outlandish fashions. Renaissance humorist François

Rabelais jokingly refers to a book titled On the Dignity of Codpieces

in the foreword to his book The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

Through the same linguistic route, cods became

a modern slang term for the male genitalia.

Codpieces are worn in leather subcultural attire to cover and confine the

genitals of a man, sometimes while wearing leather chaps. The codpiece crossed over

from the leather subculture to become an established part of heavy metal fashion

performance costume when Rob Halford, of the band Judas Priest, began wearing clothing

adopted from the gay biker and leather subculture while promoting the Hell Bent for

Leather Album in 1978. Ian Anderson, front man for Jethro Tull, wore a codpiece during his

performances in the mid-1970s.

Gene Simmons of the American Rock Band Kiss often wore black and silver

costumes with codpieces. Shock rock performer Blackie Lawless, leader of the

group WASP, wore a codpiece that features a saw blade. Heavy metal singer King

Diamond has been known to wear a codpiece as part of his performance outfits.Electric

Six lead singer Dick Valentine can be seen wearing a brightly flashing codpiece in the

music video for the band’s 2003 hit single Danger! High Voltage. Metal singer Till

Lindemann of Rammstein occasionally wears codpieces on stage.

Black metal musician and Satanist Infernus

wore a codpiece as part of his attire during the Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam

era of Gorgoroth. William Murderface also wears a codpiece on

several occasions. Alice Cooper regularly wears bright red codpieces in concert.

GWAR front man Oderus Urungus wears a codpiece

called The Cuttlefish of Cthulu.

Codpieces:

 

Leather Codpiece

Batman in a codpiece

Vintage custom Codpiece

Armor codpiece

 

Oderus Urungus of metal band GWAR wearing a codpiece in a 2004 concert

Museum Exhibit on Codpieces


L’Histoire de Mode #1~Shoulder Pads

 

Shoulder Pads In Time

Shoulder pads are a type of fabric-covered padding used in men’s and women’s clothing to give the wearer the illusion of having broader and less sloping shoulders. In men’s styles, shoulder pads are often used in suits, jackets and overcoats, usually sewn at the top of the shoulder and fastened between the lining and the outer fabric layer. In women’s clothing, their inclusion depends on the fashions of the day. Their use is particularly associated with clothing of the early 1940s and the 1980s. Although from a non-fashion point of view they are generally for people with narrow or sloping shoulders, there are also quite a few cases in which shoulder pads will be necessary for a suit or blazer in order to compensate for certain fabrics’ natural properties, most notably suede blazers, due to the weight of the material.

1930

Shoulder pads originally became popular for women in the 1930s when

fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli included them in her designs of 1931, and the following

year Joan Crawford wore them in the film “Letty Lynton”. In the beginning, they were shaped

as a semicircle or small triangle, and were stuffed with wool, cotton or sawdust. They were

positioned at the top of the sleeve, to extend the shoulder line. A good example of this

is their use in “leg o’ mutton” sleeves, or the smaller puffed sleeves which were revived at

this time, and based on styles from the 1890s.

1940

After World War II began in 1939, women’s fashions became increasingly militarised.

Jackets and coats in particular were influenced by masculine styles and shoulder pads became bulkier and were

positioned at the top of the shoulder to create a solid look. Dresses too were made with shoulder pads;

soon the style was universal, found in all garments excepting lingerie but tapering off later in the

decade after the war was over and women yearned for a softer, more feminine look.

During the late 1940s to about 1951, some dresses featured a soft, smaller shoulder pad with

so little padding as to be barely noticeable. Its function seems to have been to slightly shape the shoulder line.

1950-1960

During the 1950s and 1960s small padded shoulder pads appeared only

in women’s jackets and coats—not in dresses, knitwear or blouses as

they had previously during the heyday of the early 1940s.

1970

Shoulder pads made their next appearance in women’s clothing in the early 1970s,

through the influence of British fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki and her label Biba.

Biba produced designs influenced by the styles of the 1930s and 1940s, and so a soft version

of the shoulder pad was revived. Ossie Clark was another London designer using shoulder

pads at the time. These styles did not, however, reach mainstream acceptance, and

so the popularity was relatively short lived.

1980

During the early 1980s there was a resurgence of interest in the ladies’ evening wear styles of the

early 1940s: peplums, batwing sleeves and other design elements of the times were re-interpreted for a new market.

The shoulder pad helped define the silhouette and was reintroduced in cut foam versions, especially

in well-cut suits reminiscent of the WWII era. Before too long, these masculinized shapes were adopted by women

seeking success in the corporate world and became an icon of women’s attempts to smash the

glass ceiling, a mission that was added by their notable appearance in the TV series Dynasty.

As the decade wore on, shoulder pads became the defining fashion statement of the era, known

as power dressing and bestowing the perception of status and position onto those who wore them. They became

both larger and more ubiquitous—every garment from the brassiere upwards would come with its own

set of shoulder pads. To prevent excessive shoulder padding, velcro was sewn onto the pads so that

the wearer could choose how many sets to wear. By the end of the era, some shoulder pads

were the size of dinner plates. It was inevitable that as the cycle of fashion

turned, they would lose favour in the early 1990s.

1990

The shoulder pad fashion carried over from the late 1980s with some popularity in the

early 1990s, but tastes were changing. Some designers continued to produce ranges featuring

shoulder pads into the mid-1990s, as shoulder pads were prominent in women’s formal

suits, and matching top-bottom attire, highly exampled in The Nanny. but the marketplace had

spoken—the styles now looked out of date and were shunned by the young and fashion-conscious.

Appearances were reduced to smaller, subtler versions augmenting the

shoulder lines of jackets and coats.

2000

In the late 2000s, a resurgence of shoulder pads appeared on many runways, fashion

designer collections and became mainstream among many people who were interested in

fashion. By the 2009-2010 seasons shoulder pads had made there way in

the mainstream market again. In 2010 many retailers

like Wal-Mart had shoulder pads on at

least half of all womens tops

and blouses.

Modern Samples:


 


L’Histoire de Mode #2~Fashion Week

 

 

Fashion Week History

In 1943, the first New York Fashion Week was held,

with one main purpose: to distract attention from French

fashion during WWII, when workers in the fashion industry

were unable to travel to Paris. This was an opportune

moment – as for centuries designers in America were thought

to be reliant on the French for inspiration. The fashion

publicist Eleanor Lambert organized an event she called

‘Press Week’ to showcase American designers for fashion journalists,

who had previously ignored their works. The Press Week was a success,

and, as a result, magazines like Vogue (which were normally filled with

French designs) began to feature more and more American innovations.

Until 1994, shows were held in different locations, such as hotels, or lofts.

Eventually, after a structural accident at a Michael Kors show, the event

moved to Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, where it remained

until 2010, when the shows relocated to Lincoln Center. However, long before

Lambert, there were fashion shows throughout America. In 1903, an NYC shop, called

Ehrich Brothers, put on what is thought to have been the country’s first fashion show,

to lure middle-class females into the store. By 1910, many big department stores

were holding shows of their own.

It is likely that American retailers saw that they were called

‘fashion parades’ in Paris couture salons and decided to use the idea.

These parades were an effective way to promote stores, and improved

their status. By the 1920s, the fashion show had been used by retailers

up and down the country. They were staged, and often held in the shop’s

restaurant during lunch or teatime. These shows were usually more theatrical

than those of today, heavily based upon a single theme, and accompanied

with a narrative commentary. The shows were hugely popular, enticing

crowds in their thousands – crowds so large, that stores in New York in the

fifties had to obtain a license to have live models. Nowadays, access to

New York Fashion Week is by invitation only, and only fashion magazine

editors, fashion magazine journalists, models (and ex-models)

and celebrities are invited.

Other buyers are restricted to the showrooms and stores, and the

articles in the magazines. The dominance of the big four has been

criticised for benefiting industry participants. For example, buyers,

journalists, models and celebrities can limit their travel and simply move

from one city to the other over the four week period. This arrangement

has been criticized for stifling manufacturing employment in the UK

and design talent in emerging fashion hubs such as Los Angeles.

 

Fashion Week Schedule

New York, London, Milan and Paris each host a fashion week twice a year with

New York kicking off each season and the other cities following in the

aforementioned order.

There are two major seasons per year – Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer.

For Womenswear, the Autumn/Winter shows always start in

New York in February. Spring/Summer shows start in September

in London. Menswear Autumn/Winter shows start in January in Milan

for typically less than a week followed by another short week in Paris.

Menswear Spring/Summer shows are done in June. Womenswear Haute

Couture shows typically happen in Paris a week after

the Menswear Paris shows.

Over the past few years, more and more designers have shown

inter-seasonal collections between the traditional Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer seasons.

These collections are usually more commercial than the main season collections and

help shorten the customer’s wait for new season clothes. The inter-seasonal

collections are Resort/Cruise (before Spring/Summer) and Pre-Fall (before Autumn/Winter).

There is no fixed schedule for these shows in any of the major fashion capitals but

they typically happen three months after the main season shows. Some designers show

their inter-seasonal collections outside their home city. For example, Karl Lagerfeld

has shown his Resort and Pre-Fall collections for Chanel in cities such

as Moscow, Los Angeles and Monte Carlo instead of Paris. Many designers

also put on presentations as opposed to traditional shows during Resort and

Pre-Fall either to cut down costs or because they feel the clothes

can be better understood in this medium.

Some fashion weeks can be genre-specific, such as a

Miami Fashion Week (swimwear), Rio Summer (swimwear),

Prêt-a-Porter (ready-to-wear) Fashion Week, Couture

(one-of-a-kind designer original) Fashion Week and Bridal

Fashion Week, while Portland (Oregon, USA) Fashion Week

shows some eco-friendly designers.


L’Histoire de Mode #1~Stiletto

 

 

Stiletto Heels

A stiletto heel is a long, thin, high heel found on some boots and shoes, usually for

women. It is named after the stiletto dagger, the phrase being first recorded in the early 1930s.

Stiletto heels may vary in length from 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) to 25 cm (10 inches) or more if a

platform sole is used, and are sometimes defined as having a diameter at the ground of

less than 1 cm (slightly less than half an inch). Stiletto-style heels 5 cm or shorter are called

kitten heels. Not all high slim heels merit the description stiletto. The extremely slender

original Italian-style stiletto heels of the late 1950s and very early 1960s were no more

than 5mm in diameter for much of their length, although the heel sometimes

flared out a little at the top-piece (tip). After their demise in the mid-late 1960s,

such slender heels were difficult to find until recently due to changes in the way

heels were mass-produced. A real stiletto heel has a stem of solid steel or alloy. The

more usual method of mass-producing high shoe heels, i.e. moulded plastic with an

internal metal tube for reinforcement, does not

achieve the true stiletto shape.

Relatively thin high heels were certainly around in the late 19th

century, as numerous fetish drawings attest. Firm photographic

evidence exists in the form of photographs of Parisian singer Mistinguett

from the 1940s. These shoes were designed by Andre Perugia, who began

designing shoes in 1906. It seems unlikely that he invented the stiletto, but

he is probably the first firmly documented designer of the high, slim heel. The

word stiletto is derived from stylus, meaning a pin or stalk. Its usage in footwear

first appeared in print in the New Statesman magazine in 1959: “She came …forward,

her walk made lopsided by the absence of one heel of the stilettos”.

High heel shoes were worn by men and women courtiers. The design of the

stiletto heel originally came from the late Kristin S. Wagner but would

not become popular until the late 1950s. The stiletto heel came with the advent of

technology using a supporting metal shaft or stem embedded into the heel, instead

of wood or other, weaker materials that required a wide heel. This revival of the

opulent heel style can be attributed to the designer Roger Vivier and such designs

became very popular in the 1950s.

As time went on, stiletto heels became known more for their erotic

nature than for their ability to make height. Stiletto heels are a common

fetish item. As a fashion item, their popularity was changing over time.

After an initial wave of popularity in the 1950s, they reached their most refined

shape in the early 1960s, when the toes of the shoes which bore them became as

slender and elongated as the stiletto heels themselves. As a result of the overall sharpness

of outline, it was customary for women to refer to the whole shoe as a “stiletto”, not

just the heel, via synecdoche (pars pro toto). Although they officially faded from the

scene after the Beatle era began, their popularity continued at street level, and women

stubbornly refused to give them up even after they could no longer readily find them in

the mainstream shops.

A version of the stiletto heel was reintroduced as soon as 1974

by Manolo Blahnik, who dubbed his “new” heel the Needle. Similar heels were stocked at

the big Biba store in London, by Russell and Bromley and by smaller boutiques. Old,

unsold stocks of pointed-toe stilettos, and contemporary efforts to replicate

them (lacking the true stiletto heel because of changes in the way heels

were by then being mass-produced) were sold in street fashion markets

and became popular with punks, and with other fashion “tribes” of the

late 1970s until supplies of the inspirational original styles dwindled in

the early 1980s. Subsequently, round-toe shoes with slightly thicker

(sometimes cone-shaped) semi-stiletto heels, often very high in an attempt

to convey slenderness (the best example of this being the shoes sold in

London by Derber), were frequently worn at the office with

wide-shouldered power suits.

The style survived through much

of the 1980s but almost completely disappeared during the 1990s,

when professional and college-age women took to wearing shoes

with thick, block heels. However, the slender stiletto heel staged

a major comeback after 2000, when young women adopted

the style for dressing up office wear or adding a feminine

touch to casual wear, like jeans. Stiletto heels are particularly

associated with the image of the femme fatale. They are often

considered to be a seductive item of clothing, and often

feature in popular culture.

Stilettos give the optical illusion of a longer, slimmer leg, a smaller foot,

and a greater overall height. They also alter the wearer’s posture and gait,

flexing the calf muscles, and making the

bust and buttocks more

prominent.

All high heels counter the natural functionality of the foot,

which can create skeleton/muscular problems if they are worn

excessively. Stiletto heels are no exception, but some people assume

that because they are thinner they must be worse for you. In fact, they are

safer to wear than the other extreme of high heel fashion, the platform shoe.

Despite their impracticality, their popularity remains undiminished – as Terry

DeHavilland (UK shoe designer) has said, “people say they’re bad for the

feet but they’re good for the mind. What’s more important?”

Stiletto heels concentrate a large amount of force into a small area.

The great pressure under such a heel (greater than that under the feet of an elephant.)

can cause damage to carpets and floors. The stiletto heel will also sink into soft

ground, making it impractical for

outdoor wear on grass.

Samples:

Ed Hardy

Dior

Jimmy Choo, Cole Haan, Sergio Rossi, Burberry, Louboutin, Guess, MIA, Madden

Balenciaga

Ducati

DeSquared F/W 10 (look familiar?)

 

 


L’Histoire de Mode~Naturally Colored Cotton

 

 

Naturally colored cotton is cotton that has been bred to

grow on the plant to have colors other than the yellowish off-white

typical of modern commercial cotton fibers. Colors grown include

red, green and several shades of brown. The cotton’s natural color

does not fade. Yields are typically lower and the fiber is shorter and

weaker but has a softer feel than the more commonly available “white” cotton.

Since it doesn’t have pesticides, chemicals, bleaches or artificial dyes,

fewer allergies and respiratory problems are found. This form of cotton

also feels softer to the skin and has a pleasant smell. Naturally

Colored Cotton is still relatively rare because it requires specialized

harvest techniques and facilities, making it more expensive to harvest

than white cotton. By the 1990s most indigenous colored cotton landraces

or cultivars grown in Africa, Asia and Central and South America were

replaced by all-white, commercial varieties.

Naturally colored cotton is believed to have originated in the Americas

around 5000 years ago in the Andes. Naturally colored cotton today mostly comes

from pre-Colombian stocks created by the indigenous peoples of South

America (Vreeland, 1999). Mochica Indians could be attributed with growing naturally

colored cotton of myriad hues, which they maintained for over the last two

millenniums on the northern coast of Peru.

Naturally colored cotton comes from pigments found in

cotton pigments and produce shades ranging from tan to green

and brown. Naturally-pigmented green cotton derives its color from

caffeic-acid, a derivative of innamic acid, found in the suberin (wax)

layer which is deposited in alternating layers with cellulose around the outside

of the cotton fiber.While green colored cotton comes from wax layers, brown

and tan cottons derive their color from tannin vacuoles in the

lumen of the fiber cells.

The naturally colored cotton has a small fiber and is not suitable

for heavy machine spinning. During the World War II the insufficient supply

of dye led to the cultivation of green and brown cotton in the Soviet Union.

The US government also showed interest in cultivation of naturally colored cotton

but later aborted the project due to low yield and short staple length.

Later on US government instructed a famous agronomist, J.O.Ware, to study the Soviet cotton plants to determine whether they were commercially viable in the U.S. Ware and his colleagues concluded that the green and brown cotton plants yielded too little lint that was too short in staple length. Colored cotton was officially regulated to obscurity. Only in a few places where people still entranced by its possibilities.”

Due to smaller fiber, it becomes unpractical to use naturally colored cotton

for clothing manufacturers. But now, colored cotton is literally squeezed in with the conventional

white cotton to make its fiber longer and stronger than other naturally colored cotton to be

used in typical looms. Since this hybrid cotton fiber is stronger, it is

being used by Levis, L.L. Bean, Eileen Fisher, and

Fieldcrest for clothes like khakis.

A new arrival on the Western fashion market, naturally pigmented

cotton originally flourished some 5,000 years ago. Its revival today

draws on stocks first developed and cultivated by Indians in South and

Central America. Recent commercial cultivation currently uses

pre-Colombian stocks created by the indigenous peoples of South America.

Commercial cultivation still continues in South America as many big US

companies such as Patagonia, Levi Strauss and Esprit are buying naturally

grown cotton along with white cotton which requires significant

amount of insecticides and pesticides.

As mentioned the naturally colored cotton had smaller fiber which were

not suitable for mechanical looms used today, therefore kept naturally

colored cotton to enter in the commercial market. In 1982, Sally Fox

a graduate in Integrated Pest Management from University of California with a

Masters Degree started researching on colored cotton and integrated her knowledge

and experience in technology and introduced first long fiber of naturally colored cotton.

Sally Fox later started her company, Natural Cotton Colors, Inc. and got patents in different shades

including: green, Coyote brown, Buffalo brown, and Palo Verde green under FoxFiber®.

Later on the technology was further improved by a cotton breeder Raymond Bird in 1984.

Bird began experimenting in Reedley, California with red, green and brown cotton to

improve fiber quality. Later on Raymond Bird along with his brother and C. Harvey

Campbell Jr., a California agronomist and cotton breeder, and formed BC Cotton Inc.

to work with naturally colored cottons. Naturally colored cotton usually

come in four standard colors – green, brown, red (a reddish brown)

and mocha (similar to tan).

There is experimental evidence to demonstrate that

naturally-pigmented cottons, especially green cotton, have excellent

sun protection properties, when compared with unbleached white

cotton that needs to be treated with dyes or finishes to obtain similar

properties. It is hypothesized that the pigments in naturally-pigmented

cotton fibers are present to provide protection from ultraviolet radiation

for the embryonic cotton seeds, however they can also provide protection

from the sun’s harmful rays for consumers who wear garments manufactured

from these naturally-pigmented fibers. The UPF values of the naturally-pigmented

cottons examined in a university study remained high enough, even after 80 AFUs

(AATCC Fading Units)of light exposure and repeated laundering, that the fabrics

merited sun protection ratings of “good” to “very good” according to ASTM 6603

voluntary labeling guidelines for UV-protective textiles.

Naturally colored cotton is unique and exceptionally different from

white cotton as it does not need to be dyed. According to, agronomists the cost

of dying could be up to half of the value, and also environmentally friendly,

as it eliminates disposal costs for toxic dye waste. According to Dr. Frank

Werber, National Program Leader for Fabric and Materials, Agriculture Research

Service, USDA, naturally colored cotton is ecologically valid as well as economical.

Elimination of dyeing in production could save from $.60-1.50 per pound of fabric.

Naturally colored cotton is also resistant to change as compared with the

conventional dyed white cotton. After laundering, the color becomes

stronger and more intense, a characteristic documented during research

studies at Texas Tech University. The length of time required to “bring out” the

color varies with color and variety. Eventually, the colors may start to return

to their original color. Some naturally colored cotton darkens with

exposure to the sun. However, green is less stable and fades

to tan when exposed to sunlight.

Due to the non-industrialized product naturally colored cottons

yield less per acre, but growers are paid higher prices for their harvest.

In 1993, colored cotton prices ranged from $3.60 to $4.50 per pound

compared to conventional white cotton at $.60 to $.90 per pound.


L’Histoire de Mode~Levi Strauss

 

Strauss was a German-Jewish immigrant to the United States who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.

 

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim, in the Franconian region of Bavaria, Germany, to Hirsch Strauss and his wife Rebecca (Haass) Strauss. At the age of 18, Strauss, his mother and two sisters sailed for the United States to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York City called J. Strauss Brother & Co.

The family decided to open a West Coast branch of the family dry goods business in San Francisco, which was the commercial hub of the California Gold Rush. Levi was chosen to represent the family, and after becoming an American citizen in January of 1853, he then caught another steamship for San Francisco, arriving in early March 1853.

Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. and imported fine dry goods – clothing, bedding, combs, purses, handkerchiefs – from his brothers in New York. He sold the goods to the small general stores and men’s mercantiles of California and the West. Around 1856 Levi’s sister Fanny, her husband David Stern and their infant son Jacob moved from New York to San Francisco to join the business.

In late 1872 Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada tailor, started making men’s work pants with metal points of strain for greater strength. He wanted to patent the process but needed a business helper, so he turned to Levi Strauss, from whom he purchased some of his fabric.On May 20, 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the famous Levi’s brand of jeans, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire.

In the second half of the twentieth century, Levi’s jeans became a symbol of youth culture, being worn by revolutionaries and rock stars. They were famously photographed being worn by many of the young people who helped to dismantle the first bricks when the Berlin Wall was brought down in 1989.

Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902 at the age of 73. He never married, so he left the business to his four nephews, Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern, the sons of his sister Fanny and her husband David Stern. He also left bequests to a number of charities such as the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Levi’s fortune was estimated to be around 6 million dollars. He was buried in Colma, California

A Levi Strauss museum is maintained in Buttenheim, Germany, located in the 1687 house where Strauss was born. There is also a Visitors Center at Levi Strauss & Co. world headquarters in San Francisco, which features a number of historical exhibits.