At the beginning of the century fashions continued to be corseted with an exaggerated S-shaped figure. This can be seen in the oppulent illustrations from House of Paquin.
Florrie Westwood and Madeleine Vermont
A period of rapid change. Styles start to become more natural,more practical, less restrictive clothing. During the early years of the 1910s, designers adopted a new approach focussed on fluidity, and started to promote the use of lighter and softer fabrics in order to make their creations increasingly free flowing.
The biggest changes were during the First World War as women were called into factories and offices and fashionable dress was simplified and shortened.
Many now-anonymous dressmakers and designers like Florie Westwood produced clothes in towns and cities across the country.
aption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”365″] Florrie Westwood, fashion design, London, 1919. Four different designs for winter coats emphasise the new fashion for the linear silhouette and ankle length designs. They also show the new shape (higher neck covering and greater shoulder coverage) of fur collars and cuffs. Vand A Museum no. E.1538-1977[/caption]
After the war changing attitudes to women were reflected in fashion. Younger women cropped their hair and wore skirts to the knee, with simple, linear dresses that gave them a boyish silhouette.
Norman Hartnell (1901 – 79) famous for lavish and romantic evening and bridal gowns. Introduced the longer-length skirts that would mark the end of the ‘flapper’ era. He produced designs for royalty,
Hilda Steward: Nothing much is known about Hilda Steward apart from her drawings. Like Florries Westwood she was another anonymous dressmakers and designers
Victor Stiebel : stylisation
Following the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, new, more down-to-earth attitudes forced on the world offered great scope for a new simplicity, as encapsulated by Coco Chanel (1883–1971). In Britain, fashion became more eclectic but also more feminine and graceful and, by 1930, the ‘boyish’ look had disappeared.
World War II had a profound effect on fashion and it became regulated, militarised and framed by government decrees. But after the war, even under rationing new designs
The New Look: Christian Dior
‘I designed clothes for flower-like women, with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts, and hand-span waists above enormous spreading skirts.’ Christian Dior (1905 – 57), describing the impact of his first collection in the Spring of 1947. Dior introduced hourglass silhouettes and luxurious fabrics, softening previously boxy shoulder pads and cinching the waist for a pronounced feminine look.
Key designers were: Marjorie Field, Renee Gruau and Bernard Blossac.
My favourites are the dynamic pencil and watercolour designs of Blossac. Bernard Blossac (1917-2001) was stationed in Paris during the German occupation. He regularly drew for Vogue, L’Officiel and Harper’s Bazaar. But little is known about his life.
Often associated with the rise of youthful, ready-to-wear fashions, the fifties were nevertheless a prolific and successful decade for the fashion ‘establishment’ as embodied by couture houses and traditional dressmakers. Fashion illustration continued to flourish in the plethora of magazines published at the time.
Sigrid Hunt (later Roesen) was a fashion illustrator and editor. She came to England from Berlin in the early 1930s and worked for prestigious publications including Vogue, Tatler, and The Sketch. From the late 1950s to 1971 she worked in Germany for the Sudkurrier Welt der Frau and Die Mode.
Jean Demarchy (dates unknown) was a 1950s fashion illustrator who worked in soft pastels to create romantic, abstract, images of couture.
However, the privileged status of fashion drawing faded rapidly during the 1950s, and photography soon gained more prominence in post-war magazines that wanted harder-hitting imagery.
The ‘Swinging Sixties’ saw the emergence of a new youth market. The mini-skirt was introduced by Mary Quant in the late 1960s and continued for quite a while after this. London – not Paris – was leading fashion.
Mary Quant (born Wales 1934) gained a diploma in Art Education from Goldsmith’s College, London. She devised eye-catching window displays to attract customers. Her low-priced clothes were made up of simple shapes combined with strong colours like scarlet, prune and green. Famed for popularising the mini skirt, in 1966 Quant was awarded an OBE. In the early 1960s her designs were bought by the chain store J.C. Penney to be mass produced for the American market. The Quant label began to appear worldwide on accessories and make-up.
The 1970s saw the evolution of fashion into a proclamation of individuality. Fashion increasingly became the concern of men as well as women.
A prolific and innovative designer, John Bates (b.1938) often incorporated metallic, plastic and transparent fabrics in his creations. He is perhaps best remembered as the designer of Diana Rigg’s wardrobe for the television series The Avengers in 1965.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Zandra Rhodes (b.1940) became famous for her prints on chiffon, and her use of flamboyant, bright colours. Her designs were considered too extravagant by British manufacturers and she set up her own retail outlet on Fulham Road, London, in 1969. Rhodes’ extravagant appearance and style often attracted considerable publicity. She is credited with having introduced Punk fashions to the fashion industry with her 1977 collection entitled Punk Chic.
Bill Gibb (1943–88) was a fashion designer whose creations defined the 1970s look. He opened his boutique Alice Paul in Kensington in 1967 and first designed for the youth market, with clean lines that bore the imprint of contemporary trends. In the 1970s, his style developed along eclectic and romantic lines inspired by the hippie scene and by medieval and pre-Raphaelite painting. His romantic aesthetic was less successful during the 1980s and he presented his last full collection in 1985.
The increasing profile of women in the work place required a new fashion aesthetic, and the decade witnessed the emergence of ‘Power Dressing’. Wide, padded shoulders became fashionable and women’s clothes were inspired by masculine fashion and tailoring traditions. The period also saw the display of lavish evening wear, as exemplified by the opulent dresses of Oscar de la Renta.
Antoni & Alison
The London based fashion design duo, Antoni & Alison, are Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts. They met in 1982 when studying fashion at St Martin’s college. They are known for their eclectic and playful designs, including ranges of slogan and vacuum packed T-shirts.
Manolo Blahnik (b. 1942) is one of the most prominent and successful shoe designers of his age. His creations were famously immortalised in episodes of Sex and the City, and his name is now synonymous with luxurious and exquisitely designed shoes. He was awarded an honorary title of Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours List, for services to the British fashion industry.
These designs are for ladies shoes, for possible production by Zapata Shoes Ltd, London, 1980.
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