Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blogging Project Runway: Fashion History 101 Primer

It is the second time I am watching or reading something that a Project Runway or Project Runway Canada contestant says or writes and I recoil in horror.

A few weeks back I wrote about a plus-size/skinny chick bathing suit challenge they had on Project Runway Canada. The eliminated designer, Kendra, had to make two bathing suits inspired by the fashions of Marie Antoinette's time.

She was going on about how she was doing this or that with EDWARDIAN fashion....


These are clothes from Marie Antoinette's time

Actually, this is her....

This is all from the end of the 18th Century, approximately 1770 through the French Revolution (1789).

This, on the other hand, IS Edwardian fashion which happened AFTER another popular period in fashion history, the VICTORIAN period. Edwardian is called that, because it was is the period 1901 to 1910, the reign of King Edward VII, who succeeded Queen Victoria on the throne of England.

Edwardian Fashion looked like this:

Fashionable Londoners in front of Harrods, 1909.  The trailing skirts and broad-brimmed hats of mid-decade are giving way to narrower gowns and hats with deep crowns. Men wear top hats with formal morning dress or bowlers with lounge suits.

Paul Poiret's new silhouette of 1908 was a radical departure.

Image:Elizabeth Drexel.jpg

Image:The blue cup de Camp.jpg

Or any of Kate Winstlet's costumes from "Titanic"

That is Edwardian.....

Now, Flapper is the..... 20's that's right.... and that is what it looks like:


Actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford wearing fashions of the early 1920s.

In the 30's we had.....

Fashions from 1936.

and Schiaparelli and Vionnet.

We all know about the impact of Hollywood, Adrian, Edith Head and WWII had in the fashion of the 1940's which changed radically at the end of the war because of..... Yes, that is right children, Christian Dior's "New Look"

Which was followed by the fashions of the 50's, which we all know as "Grease" costumes...

Grease - Movie Stills

The 60's started out with really cool stuff like coat and shift ensembles that Jackie Kennedy wore but then came mod and then Mary Quant and Biba and Zandra Rhodes and Ozzy Clark and Flower children and it all was downhill from there.

The 70's were cheesy and God awful and unremarkable except for the tail end of it and the Disco Era because of designers like Halston and Yves St. Laurent, Gucci and Giorgio St. Angelo.

Then came the 80's.... The 80's had good, bad, ugly and sublime. Probably the best era in fashion history since the ... yes, children since the 30's and 40's. Taste... you are LEARNING....

In the 80's there were ripped out sweatshirts with leather mini skirts and leg warmers. There were acid wash jeans. There were designer jeans like Calvin Klein and Jodache. There was neon. There were Power suits and shoulder pads.

And there was Montana and Mugler and Alaia. And Miyake and Comme and Yamamoto and De Castelbajac and Sprouse. I told you there was good and sublime...

And there was ..... yes, Alison Kelly, that's right, Vivienne Westwood. Vivienne Westwood started designing clothes in 1971 when she opened her first store, "Let it Rock" and then "Sex" in 1974 NOT in the 60's. BUT Vivienne Westwood had her FIRST fashion show in London in, yes children, 1981 and it was called, yes, that's right, the PIRATE collection, that was worn among many, by Bowie and Adam and the Ants. And me. I am one of the biggest Westwood collectors in the West Coast.

In the 90's there was the whole Marc Jacobs grunge scandal thingamajig and the rise and fall of Gucci with Tom Ford and Chanel under the Karl.

And then we are at now, the noughties.

I hope that helps.

Because it IRKS me to no avail when fashion designers say things that make my hairs stand up on their ends because they have NO CLUE about history or the history of their art.

Fashion history is one of my favourite things. Everyone else considers it the BORING subject in fashion design school. Being that I am a geek, I love it.

So next time, pay equal attention to the books. It might save you from looking like a fool on TV or a blog,


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