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.
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
• 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.
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.
turns to powder
|flame will self extinguish
if flame source is removed
|SILK||burns slowly||burning hair
turns to powder
|burns more easily than wool
but will self extinguish is flame
|COTTON||yellow to orange color
|grayish, fluffy||slow burning ember|
|LINEN||yellow to orange color
|similar to cotton||takes longer to ignite than cotton but otherwise very similar|
|RAYON||fast orange flame||burning paper
|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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.