Today our class reviewed the numerous talented individuals who brought dressmaking and sewing to a new and exclusive level labelled ‘haute couture’. From Charles Frederick Worth, who is noted to be the father of haute couture, and many other designer couturiers that have followed in the 100 years leading up to 2000 including Poiret and Doucet, Fortuny, Chanel, Vionnet, Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Quant, Pucci, Valentino, Lauren, Prada, and Versace to mention only a few. Generally, before 1900 garments were created by unknown specialist and novelist sewers. That is not to say, they were unremarkable, only unrecognized.
Looking back over unique styles which relate to these designers, and notably have stuck around in some form since 1900, we generally attribute timelines to those trends that caught on in western society. It was true to say that if you weren’t dressed in the fashion of the day you were considered to be operating on the fringes of society, somehow unaware and out of step with the modern world and good taste.
Since around the year 2000 however, that has changed and it would be very difficult to attribute any single fashion with any designer or single style followed by the western world. An explosion of designers and acceptable style possibilities has eased the pressure on everyone to conform to prescribed fashion trends. But this has made fashion trend prediction much more complex. At the same time, it ironically seems easier to see huge design gaps in the fashion market.
One such gap is what we consider ethnically diverse style representation. What I mean is, fashion designed and created by individuals in cultures previously ignored, or even suppressed, by western society has only recently captured popular fashion media attention. Also, we have recognized it as unconscionable, and no longer the prerogative of western entitlement, to copy designs from another’s ethnicity or cultural icons. This really is progress to our own understanding and shouldn’t be viewed as hinderance to creativity or inspiration rather an opportunity for growth.
Another glaring gap is the unfulfilled need for atypical size men’s and women’s fashion, which represents a growing percentage of the population. I’m not just refering to larger size or particularly curvy individuals. It’s not so unusual these days for anyone to outgrow garments just by becoming more fit. Biceps and thighs are becoming larger, but garments are still made with standard size sleeves and trouser legs leaving them looking like they’ve been squeezed into sausage casings. I don’t believe this is the chicest look to show off muscular bodies.
Another gap is in regional requirements for warm and stylish winter wear here in our northerly climate. Sportswear and active wear seem to be reasonably well serviced today with outerwear for every conceivable sport. But what is clearly lacking is fashionable, functional and stylish outer wear for women and men in suits, dresses and evening wear. The key combination which is missing is ‘functional and stylish’ outerwear during the winter months that can last up to 6 months every year. Overcoats are never designed or made with enough wind-break, flexibility or ease to cover the entire body fully clothed in several layers already, nor made to cover, provide adequate warmth, and protect longer hemlines in evening gowns.
These are only three areas of immense opportunity for good creative design in fashion in our time. What I haven’t mentioned in this blog, but no less important, is the necessity to make and create with better materials, with better longer lasting methods. The whole purpose of our being in couture and tailoring is to promote quality in materials and craftsmanship to satisfy personal taste and style in garments that will stand the test of time physically and aesthetically.