History Of Fashion

Fashion is something we deal with everyday. Even people who say they don’t care what they wear choose clothes every morning that say a lot about them and how they feel that day.

One certain thing in the fashion world is change. We are constantly being bombarded with new fashion ideas from music, videos, books, and television. Movies also have a big impact on what people wear. Ray-Ban sold more sunglasses after the movie Men In Black. Sometimes a trend is world-wide. Back in the 1950s, teenagers everywhere dressed like Elvis Presley.

Who dictates fashion?

Musicians and other cultural icons have always influenced what we’re wearing, but so have political figures and royalty. Newspapers and magazines report on what Hillary Clinton wears. The recent death of Diana, the Princess of Wales, was a severe blow to the high fashion world, where her clothes were daily news.

Even folks in the 1700s pored over fashion magazines to see the latest styles. Women and dressmakers outside the French court relied on sketches to see what was going on. The famous French King Louis XIV said that fashion is a mirror. Louis himself was renowned for his style, which tended towards extravagant laces and velvets.

Clothes separate people into groups.

Fashion is revealing. Clothes reveal what groups people are in. In high school, groups have names: “goths, skaters, preps, herbs.” Styles show who you are, but they also create stereotypes and distance between groups. For instance, a businessman might look at a boy with green hair and multiple piercings as a freak and outsider. But to another person, the boy is a strict conformist. He dresses a certain way to deliver the message of rebellion and separation, but within that group, the look is uniform. Acceptance or rejection of a style is a reaction to the society we live in.

Fashion is a language which tells a story about the person who wears it. “Clothes create a wordless means of communication that we all understand,” according to Katherine Hamnett, a top British fashion designer. Hamnett became popular when her t-shirts with large messages like “Choose Life” were worn by several rock bands.

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Fashion Week History

Fashion Week New York, an annual Fall event, is a traditional gathering that dates back to World War II.

Fashion Week, once called Press Week, first took place in New York City in 1943. With Fashion Week typically taking place in Paris France and due to the war, fashion insiders were unable to travel into the country and see the latest and greatest in trends. This is when Eleanor Lambert stepped up and organized a fashion week within the United States and with that put American fashion into the spotlight.  Her idea of Fashion Week in America continued and was held in different locations such as hotels or lofts. In 1994, the event moved to Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, where it remained until this year. As of next year, it will again be relocated to the Lincoln Center.

Around the world there are four major fashion weeks. They take place in the same order each year so that fashion devotees can attend each of them, if they wish. The “Big Four” are located in New York, London, Milan and Paris. The event is held twice a year, one in Fall/Winter (February) and the other in Spring/Summer (September).  Each event lasts one week and allows fashion designers, brands and ‘houses’ to display their latest collections. These collections are shown off through runway shows and allows buyers to get an inside glance at the latest trends.

Fashion shows of course occurred in America before Lambert’s Fashion Week in New York City. Large department stores were hosting fashion events for middle-class American women, featuring the latest styles being sold in their stores. Sometimes these events were called ‘fashion parades.’ The parades had a theme and was accompanied by a commentator.

Today, attending an event like New York Fashion week can only be done if you are invited. Invitations are often limited to buyers, fashion magazine editors, fashion magazine journalists, models, celebrities and such.

But not to worry, Fashion Week and technology have joined together and now Fashion Week is being shown via satellite and through the Internet. This expansion in technology has saved designers thousands of dollars in travel costs. In addition, with an Internet presence, some designers are marketing their work exclusively online. Applications for iPhones have even been created to help showcase designs and Fashion Week.

Designers who are selling exclusively online include Normal Kamali and the Polo Ralph Lauren Rubgy brand. Because of the technological changes, in 2009 runway models could be seen carrying mini notebooks rather than handbags.

Another trend seen during fall 2009 Fashion Week was that items were designed and shown for both fall and spring. An example was a bold colored dress that could be worn over a turtleneck in the winter and as a stand alone in the spring. There were also convertible blazers by Vera Wang and Karen Walker.

What will Fashion Week of 2011 demonstrate? With the recession and technology combined, it is hard to tell.

Sheila Harris is the general manager of Cotton Island a womens fashion boutique. Cotton Island always carries the newest and freshest styles that won’t break your pocketbook. The womens boutique can be found at http://www.cottonisland.com.

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