Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Fashion Flux: Influence Upwards and Downwards

Part I
Nineteenth Century 

Looking back through the decades, even the centuries,  there have been some crazy cool fashions as well as some just plain crazy but where does fashion generate from?  Gradual evolutions of certain styles that one can see develop from one year to the next but also marked revolutions which seemed to tear away everything, almost all at once that was thought mandatory in the preceding years. Of course, there have always been marked contrasts of what different sets of people wore contemporaneously,  at one time enforced by law, but there were also general style directions and shared desires in sartorial statements.  Regardless of the differences of the fashionable set in their uncomfortable finery or everyday folk in practical gear there was also  a shared silhouette or strong image that dates those clothes to a period of history, despite the class of who wore it. The influence of the so called 'upper classes' on the rank and file is well founded but the inversion of the influence was remarkable but not as exceptional as one might expect.

The winsome early nineteenth century when everyone appeared dressed as rural peasants (including the peasants) in looser fitting clothes, muslins, humble floral poplins and fleurs d'Indiennes for fear of being taken for an aristocrat and marched off to a guillotine (Révolution Française 1789-99). The multitude of depictions of the many times pregnant Queen of England with her hunter-gatherer Prince Regent in the mid-nineteenth century popularised and re-trenched notions of  female passivity and male responsibility. This is evident in the predilection for enormous round hoops century under ladies skirts and increasing amounts of fancy detail on outer garments that contrasted strongly with the ever-more sombre male attire from the same period. Notably couples were often pictured in what ever medium her sitting and him standing protectively by her side or behind. The fashion for frippery escalated to it's full fruition into an era that was named the Belle Epoque for its ethereal beauty only be swept away by the Great War which just about wiped all life as previously known to be replaced by the frantic dance of the 1920s.

to be continued...

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