Sunday, March 31, 2013
Thursday, March 28, 2013
During the early years of the 1910s the fashionable silhouette became much more lithe, fluid and soft than in the 1900s. When the Ballets Russes performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910, a craze for Orientalism ensued. The couturier Paul Poiret was one of the first designers to translate this vogue into the fashion world. Poiret's clients were at once transformed into harem girls in flowing pantaloons, turbans, and vivid colors and geishas in exotic kimono. The Art Nouveau movement began to emerge at this time and its influence was evident in the designs of many couturiers of the time. Simple felt hats, turbans, and clouds of tulle replaced the styles of headgear popular in the 1900s (decade). It is also notable that the first real fashion shows were organized during this period in time, by the first female couturier, Jeanne Paquin, who was also the second Parisian couturier to open foreign branches in London, Buenos Aires, and Madrid.
Two of the most influential fashion designers of the time were Jacques Doucet and Mariano Fortuny. The French designer Jacques Doucet excelled in superimposing pastel colors and his elaborate gossamery dresses suggested the Impressionist shimmers of reflected light. His distinguished customers never lost a taste for his fluid lines and flimsy, diaphanous materials. While obeying imperatives that left little to the imagination of the couturier, Doucet was nonetheless a designer of immense taste and discrimination, a role many have tried since, but rarely with Doucet's level of success.
The Venice-based designer Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo was a curious figure, with very few parallels in any age. For his dress designs he conceived a special pleating process and new dyeing techniques. He patented his process in Paris on 4 November 1910. He gave the name Delphos to his long clinging sheath dresses that undulated with color. The name Delphos came from the bronze statue of the Charioteer at Delphi. Each garment was made of a single piece of the finest silk, its unique color acquired by repeated immersions in dyes whose shades were suggestive of moonlight or of the watery reflections of the Venetian lagoon. Breton straw, Mexican cochineal, and indigo from the Far East were among the ingredients that Fortuny used. Among his many devotees were Eleonora Duse, Isadora Duncan, Cléo de Mérode, the Marchesa Casati, Emilienne d'Alencon, and Liane de Pougy.
Tunics and hobble skirts
The extravagances of the Parisian couturiers came in a variety of shapes, but the most popular silhouette throughout the decade was the tunic over a long underskirt. Early in the period, waistlines were high (just below the bust), echoing the Empire or Directoire styles of the early 19th century. Full, hip length "lampshade" tunics were worn over narrow, draped skirts. By 1914, skirts were widest at the hips and very narrow at the ankle. These hobble skirts made long strides impossible.Waistlines were loose and softly defined. They gradually dropped to near the natural waist by mid-decade, where they were to remain through the war years. Tunics became longer and underskirts fuller and shorter. By 1916 women were wearing a calf-length dress over an ankle-length underskirt.
When the Paris fashion houses reopened after the war, styles for 1919 showed a lowered and even more undefined waist.
Suits and coats
The tailleur or tailored suit of matching jacket and skirt was worn in the city and for travel. Jackets followed the lines of tunics, with raised, lightly defined waists. Fashionable women of means wore striking hats and fur stole or scarves with their tailleurs, and carried huge matching muffs.
Most coats were cocoon or kimono shaped, wide through the shoulders and narrower at the hem. Fur coats were popular.
World War I
Changes in dress during World War I were dictated more by necessity than fashion. As more and more women were forced to work, they demanded clothes that were better suited to their new activities; these derived from the shirtwaists and tailored suits. Social events were postponed in favor of more pressing engagements and the need to mourn the increasing numbers of dead, visits to the wounded, and the general gravity of the time meant that darker colors and simpler cuts became the norm. A new monochrome look emerged that was unfamiliar to young women in comfortable circumstances. Women dropped the cumbersome underskirts from their tunic-and-skirt ensembles, simplifying dress and shortening skirts in one step. By 1915, the Gazette du Bon Ton was showing full skirts with hemlines above the ankle. These were called the "war crinoline" by the fashion press, who promoted the style as "patriotic" and "practical".
Furthermore people were dressing less extravagantly due to funds being put toward the war effort. According to Eileen Collard, Coco Chanel took notice of this and introduced costume jewelry. She replaced expensive necklaces with glass or crystal beads. "Without grading them to size, she mixed pearls with other beads to fashion original jewelry to be worn with her designs" that were inspired by women joining the workforce.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
OverviewIn this period, fashionable women's clothing styles were based on the Empire silhouette — dresses were closely fitted to the torso just under the bust, falling loosely below. In different contexts, such styles are commonly called "Directoire style" (referring to the Directory government of France during the second half of the 1790s), "Empire style" (referring to Napoleon's 1804–1814/1815 empire, and often also to his 1800–1804 "consulate"), or "Regency" (most precisely referring to the 1811–1820 period of George IV's formal regency, but often loosely used to refer to various periods between the 18th century and the Victorian).
These 1795–1820 fashions were quite different from the styles prevalent during most of the 18th century and the rest of the 19th century, when women's clothes were generally tight against the torso from the natural waist upwards, and heavily full-skirted below (often inflated by means of hoop-skirts, crinolines, panniers, bustles, etc.). The high waistline of 1795–1820 styles took attention away from the natural waist, so that there was then no point to the tight "wasp-waist" corseting often considered fashionable during other periods. Without the corset, chemise dresses displayed the long line of the body, as well as the curves of the female torso.
GownsInspired by neoclassical tastes, the short-waisted dresses sported soft, loose skirts and were often made of white, almost transparent muslin, which was easily washed and draped loosely like the garments on Greek and Roman statues. Since the fabric clung to the body, revealing what was underneath, it made nudity à la grecque a centerpiece of public spectacle. Thus during the 1795–1820 period, it was often possible for middle- and upper-class women to wear clothes that were not very confining or cumbersome, and still be considered decently and fashionably dressed. Among middle- and upper-class women there was a basic distinction between "morning dress" (worn at home in the afternoons as well as mornings) and evening attire — generally, both men and women changed clothes in preparation for the evening meal and possible entertainments to follow. There were also further gradations such as afternoon dress, walking dress, riding habits, travelling dress, dinner dress, etc.
In the Mirror of Graces; or the English Lady's Costume, published in London in 1811, the author ("a Lady of Distinction") advised:
In the morning the arms and bosom must be completely covered to the throat and wrists. From the dinner-hour to the termination of the day, the arms, to a graceful height above the elbow, may be bare; and the neck and shoulders unveiled as far as delicacy will allow.
- Morning dresses were worn inside the house. They were high-necked and long-sleeved, covering throat and wrists, and generally plain and devoid of decoration.
- Evening gowns were often extravagantly trimmed and decorated with lace, ribbons, and netting. They were cut low and sported short sleeves, baring bosoms. Bared arms were covered by long white gloves. Our Lady of Distinction, however, cautions young women from displaying their bosoms beyond the boundaries of decency, saying, "The bosom and shoulders of a very young and fair girl may be displayed without exciting much displeasure or disgust."
A Lady of Distinction also advised young ladies to wear softer shades of color, such as pinks, periwinkle blue, or lilacs. The mature matron could wear fuller colors, such as purple, black, crimson, deep blue, or yellow.
Many women of this era remarked upon how being fully dressed meant the bosom and shoulders were bare, and yet being under-dressed would mean one's neckline went right up to one's chin.
Hairstyles and headgear
During this period, the classical influence extended to hairstyles. Often masses of curls were worn over the forehead and ears, with the longer back hair drawn up into loose buns or Psyche knots influenced by Greek and Roman styles. By the later 1810s, front hair was parted in the center and worn in tight ringlets over the ears. Adventurous women like Lady Caroline Lamb wore short cropped hairstyles "à la Titus", the Journal de Paris reporting in 1802 that "more than half of elegant women were wearing their hair or wig à la Titus", a layered cut usually with some tresses hanging down.
In the Mirror of Graces, a Lady of Distinction writes,
Now, easy tresses, the shining braid, the flowing ringlet confined by the antique comb, or bodkin, give graceful specimens of the simple taste of modern beauty. Nothing can correspond more elegantly with the untrammeled drapery of our newly-adopted classic raiment than this undecorated coiffure of nature.
Conservative married women continued to wear linen mob caps, which now had wider brims at the sides to cover the ears. Fashionable women wore similar caps for morning (at home undress) wear.
For the first time in centuries, respectable but daringly fashionable women would leave the house without a hat or bonnet, previously something often associated with prostitutes. However most women continued to wear something on their head outdoors, though they were beginning to cease to do so indoors during the day (as well as for evening wear). The antique head-dress, or Queen Mary coif, Chinese hat, Oriental inspired turban, and Highland helmet were popular. As for bonnets, their crowns and brims were adorned with increasingly elaborate ornamentations, such as feathers and ribbons. In fact, ladies of the day embellished their hats frequently, replacing old decorations with new trims or feathers.