Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prelude to the 20th Century

Fashion is not only dictated by the styles going down the runway and what magazines show us. Fashion is affected by significant issues such as wars and revolution, peacetime and prosperity, civil rights, travel, transportation, communication, literacy and education, sports and recreation, and the entertainment industry. You will see all of these examples work their way through fashion trends since the early 1900s with a profile of each decade with photos of the decades fashion. To know fashion today, you must know yesterdays fashion.

Two big events in the late 1800s were the Civil War from 1861 - 1865 and the beginning of Industrialization which brought better transportation: safer railroads and electric trolleys.

Fashion before 1870 meant that every woman was essentially a dressmaker. Ready-made apparel became widespread through mail-order catalogs and department stores in major urban centers. This transition from homemade to ready-made apparel began in the mid-1800s with corsets and men's shirts.

The wealthy population looked to Europe for aristocratic fashion design; Godey's Lady Book showed the latest styles from Europe to the USA and it was extremely influential. Charles Fredderick Worth, who is considered to be the father of Haute Couture, established the House of Worth in Paris in 1857. He dressed society women in Europe and the USA, along with royalty and those seeking social status. Vogue magazine, highly influential still today, began publication in 1892 which led to photography becoming a significant factor in fashion, allowing women to see themselves and other women.

During the Conservative Victorian Era, clothing was straight-laced and bodies were covered up. The voluminous skirts of the mid-1800s become slimmer bustle silhouettes, women's dress was carefully chosen to show respectability and femininity. Jeanne Paquin, Jacques Doucet, and Charles Worth were three extremely important designers of the time period.

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