• Bronwen Hundley

History of Fashion

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

It is said that Charles Frederick Worth, 1825 to 1895, is the father of haute couture and the founder of fashion. He is believed to be the first person to create clothing for individuals based on what would look good on them. He moved from London to Paris and opened his first atelier, designing exquisite haute couture pieces for his clients.

Over the years thousands of designers emerged following this concept of designing unique tailor-made pieces for individuals. Designers would showcase their vision on catwalk models and it would be emulated by the masses and high street brands.

Fashion is so much more than just clothing that looks good. It is an expression of emotion and is not just haute couture designers telling us what to wear next season, it is also influenced from the streets up to the designers. Fashion is an expression of emotion and a reflection of current affairs and noteworthy events.

Let’s reflect:

In the 1920’s, after decades of fighting, women were finally granted equal rights and were allowed to work. This influenced fashion greatly where they started wearing pants and cutting their hair short to show their equal rights and the 20’a represented an androgynous aesthetic. Levi’s Strauss and Co, the inventor of the blue jean, designed the first ever jeans for women with strong workwear styling in rigid fabrics.

In the 1930’s women felt happier again and started wearing flowing a-line skirts I’m beautiful colours.

1940’s, World war 2 was catastrophic and the world ran out of fabrics and thread as well as other resources and materials. This led to painting stitching on jeans; skirts adopted pencil silhouettes and leg openings became straighter to use less fabrics. Colours became darker and neutral reflecting the worlds depression.

Let’s fast forward to the 60’s, Vietnam war was in full swing and the people no longer wanted to fight. This led to the hippie generation with the expression “make love not war”. This was a time after birth control was developed and before the global emergence of HIV and AIDS so people were free spirited wearing revealing clothing, flower powder prints and colours with paintings of the peace sign as the global logo for the decade.

Until today fashion is still influenced by current events. Prior to the Great Recession of 2008, the world felt rich and wore diamanté studded tees and jeans with gold and silver crystals all over. After the major financial blow, people felt poor and tarnished resulting in diamanté embellishments being replaced by rusted nail heads and studs; and cracked matted gold and silver fabrics.

In 2015 Donald Trump made a radical sexist remark publicly which resulted in all genders wearing slogan tees stating “we are all feminists”.

Welcome 2020, the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Results of the pandemic forced everyone to work from home and the trend of “above the desk” dressing emerged. People wear joggers and sneakers and throw on a blazer with a beautiful necklace to attend zoom meetings. This year has seen the greatest expression of cross category dressing mixing sleepwear with formalwear, sportswear with eveningwear and more.

Image credit: boohoo mena

Human beings are affected greatly by global and local events and we express emotion through what we wear, sometimes without even realizing it. Fashion reflects what we stand for, it shows which society we belong to, it reveals our inner most feelings and tells our stories. Fashion is more than art, it is an expression of mankind.

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