The History of Fashion
The expressions like ‘Roman, Greek or Egyptian fashion followers’ are very frequent in books. Since Adam and Eve people have had some definite ideas on how to dress. However, does it really mean that the phenomenon of fashion arose simultaneously with culture? Not at all!
The thing is not that in ancient Greece the cut of clothes common for both sexes didn’t change for 1.5 thousand years. After all, people were always capable of telling the difference between well-dressed and frumpy people on the basis of details inconspicuous for an eye of a later researcher.
It also happened that the concept of clothes changed instantly as a result of conquests, for instance. However, that couldn’t be called fashion trends, as fashion designers didn’t exist then.
In the middle of the 14th century Europe witnessed the clothes revolution. On the one hand it was caused by the general complication of the city life, and on the other hand by the perfection and specialization in dressmaking. Men’s and lady’s clothing began to drift apart. It launched the fast sex distinction process in clothing.
In the 16th century the culture itself confirmed the presence of a new phenomenon: clothes were changing faster than they were worn down. It was then when the word ‘fashion’ appeared and it had the most scornful sense. Besides, new ideas in the field of clothes design belonged to wearers, not dressmakers, which remained mere performers of other people’s will.
In the 17th -18th centuries social changes in clothing gradually disappeared and stylishness became more important than ever. The status symbols lost their primary importance and started to have a fashion angle. The internationalization of fashion took place then. There were times when Italy, and later on, Spain, influenced the European clothes, but it was France that strengthened its hand in it.
Finally, fashion started to be considered as a continuous circle of taste. ‘Changes in fashion are taxes imposed by the industry of the poor onto the vanity of the rich,’ this phrase became the motto of those years.
So is it possible to state that at least by the end of the 18th century the word ‘fashion’ had acquired the meaning it has nowadays? No, it is not. The real fashion does not exist without the notions ‘haute couture’ and ‘pret-a-porter’ and contrast between them.
The sewing industry appeared only in 1820 in England. The profession of a couturier as an artist appeared in response to the complete standardization of clothes. It happened when a dressmaker took the initiative that had been the right and the power of a customer.
In autumn of 1857 the English dressmaker Charles-Frederick Wart opened a clothes salon, combining the properties of a shop, fashion atelier and a theatre. It is him who gave the birth to the great idea that attractive girls should demonstrate new dresses. By the way, women took over the status of the chief consumers of the fashion products from men only in the 19th century.
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