History of clothing (part 2)

We have succinctly traced the history of clothing from antiquity to the end

of the 19th century in our article for Sunday July 24 (part 1). 

Let's continue this epic, with a fashion stroll from the Roaring Twenties to the 1950s.

We could say that it characterizes novelty, originality, sometimes even a provocation against the established order. Breaking with tradition, it is a valuable indicator of the evolution of our society.

If the 20th century has an exceptional character in human history, it is also that of fashion which saw the emergence of some of its greatest creators such as Lanvin, Chanel or Yves Saint-Laurent to name but a few among exceptional French couturiers.

Fashion has in fact moved over the centuries from the ostentatious display of the social condition initially reserved for the nobility to a true applied and widely popularized art in the service of feminine elegance. From the 20th century, it became a tool for expression and emancipation of identity, both individual and collective.


A popular fashion :

Electricity creates industrialization, which creates clothing – the ancestor of ready-to-wear – which creates department stores. For the first time in its history, the garment comes out of the cottages where the housewife sometimes sewed it clumsily. It begins to invade the windows of large cities and quickly spreads throughout the province. Trends are emerging and the first fashion phenomena for everyone are now underway.

Shapes in the 1920s :

Women wear shirt dresses with thin straps or pants, all in a straight shape. The skirts, already slightly shortened, reflect the desire for freedom and the rejection of common conventions.

In 1930 :

First steps in the advertising market when Coco Chanel and film producer Samuel Goldwyn reached an agreement to dress stars for the company “United Artists”.

This decade sublimates femininity. The style is characterized by V-cuts. The sets are worn with shoulder pads and narrower skirts.

The 1940s

Democratization and cultural activities liberate bodies. The carefree movement of the Zazous contributes to its wide diffusion. Close-fitting knit tops or blouses flatter the curves of the bust and hips. It’s “high waisted” that we wear skirts and pants. He who established himself in women's fashion just before the Second World War.

During this terrible period, martial restrictions put haute couture houses in danger. Textiles are among the first limited products, intended primarily for the arms industry. The women then compete in ingenuity to maintain their Parisian elegance. The curtains are transformed into dresses, we run to the flea markets to find the smallest piece of fabric. We dye our legs with tea, highlighted with a pencil line at the back to imitate silk stockings.

Fashion was drastically controlled: the length of skirts rose below the knees, due to a lack of fabric, which marked the advent of the pencil skirt. As a sign of resistance to the occupier, the hat became an icon of the decade.

After the War :

In the summer of 1945, European women wanted change, color and innovation. It was the euphoric post-war era, the handsome GIs imported chewing gum and rock'n'roll, clothing fashion was also strongly inspired by our American cousins.

No more shortages, it’s opulence. After so many seasons of outfits assembled from odds and ends, fashion looks extremely feminine.

The 1950s :

Cinched waist, highlighted chest, liberated lingerie, the emerging bikini, nylon stockings, and the surge of Ready-to-Wear. The fifties are synonymous with elegance.

Coco Chanel launches her famous suit.

Tight blouses combined with corsets, creating the wasp waist, both much appreciated and feared. Until Christian Dior, a young, then unknown designer, presented his “New Look”: very fitted suits characterized by peplums and worked lapels. It revolutionizes the codes. The skirt is corolla or pencil.

Paris, amorphous under occupation, once again becomes the world capital of fashion.

Publié par Viviane VGM, Rédactrice du Magazine Artist La marque.

1 comment

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