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Thomas Saint invented the first sewing machine in 1790. Isaac Singer is known for inventing the first mass produced sewing machine, which had a foot pedal and falling shuttle. He patented this design in 1851.



Many women campaigned for the right to vote. They were called suffragettes. To show their seriousness, they wore plain and simple clothing but wanted to avoid their stereotype image so continued wearing feminine blouses which were in fashion.

Paul Poiret freed women from restricting corsets and petticoats, introducing the technique of draping rather than tailoring. Poiret also claims to have invented the brassiere.


The cage crinoline was invented after women previously wore layers of petticoats under the skirt. The layers were worn to increase the skirts fullness, but this was uncomfortably hot, so the cage was designed, with only one petticoat underneath.


1850 - 1914 1870


Vogue magazine was launched by Arthur Turnure, first in the United States. It was a weekly publication, which soon spread to countries overseas changing the influences of fashion.


The Arts and Crafts movement began around 1880, partly led by William Morris. This was a reaction against the industrial revolution. Architecture became simplified and products were mass produced, so craftsmen feared their work would no longer be needed.

The crinoline style changed to be flatter at the front and sides. A fashion of draping excess overskirt fabric at the back came in. The bustle was designed to support the draped fabric.

Charles Frederick Worth is known as ‘the first couturior’ and opened the most successful couture fashion house of the time. His designs were made more famous and sought after, after being worn by Empress Eugénie.


The 1920s was known as The Jazz Age.Womens’ dresses had shorter hemlines so the knees were seen, a flatter bust and straighter waist. This was known as ‘Flapper Fashion’.


The Wall Street Crash led to the Great Depression when 13 million people were unemployed and families lived in primitive conditions. This impacted greatly on the global economy.



Madeleine Vionnet was a key designer of the 1930s, as she designed The Goddess Dress, and popularized the bias cut, introducing a free-er style using chiffon and silk.

Nylon was invented in 1927, as a synthetic alternative to silk. Nylon stockings were made in 1940 and were worn to cover the exposed legs when women wore shorter dresses.



Gabriella ‘Coco’ Chanel was a major influence on womens fashion from the 1920s to the present. She designed the Jersey Flapper Dress and womens trouser suits, inventing ‘La Garconne’ look.

Utility clothing was introduced in 1941. Womens’ jackets had square shoudlers and skirts were knee level, following the trends during the war, reflecting army uniforms.



World War 1 brought changes to womens’ lifestyles, affecting how they dressed. They were needed to work as the men joined the army, so were no longer made to wear restricting corsets.


During World War 2, the high demand for army uniform and a shortage of fabric, meant clothes rationing was introduced. People were allowed approximately one outfit a year, so learnt to repair their old clothes.

The disco style was influenced by the film ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and the band ABBA. They made flared trousers and platform shoes a trend.


Vivienne Westwood opened the boutique ‘Sex’ in London with her partner. This influenced the punk subculture which was were known for rebelling and listening to bands such as The Sex pistols.


The Vietnam war was a tragedy leading to many deaths. The response affected fashion as many people protested wearing peace symbols and hippie style clothes. Military clothing also made a reappearance.


Twiggy was known as the first supermodel and the face of 1966 because of her slim figure, short hair and high fashion ‘mod look’, influencing girls’ style.


Barbara Hulanicki set up BIBA as a mail order clothes boutique. This became so popluar, a store was opened in London. BIBA’s main attraction was its fashionable but affordable clothes. Mary Quant brought the miniskirt to fame, as a dress and skirt, colourful and childlike. She used new fabrics, such as PVC and also designed the plastic raincoat and pinafore dress.


Hippies wore androgynous clothes: bell bottom trousers, long skirts, tie-dye clothes and sandals or went barefoot, and had long hair. They campaigned for peace and started the ‘Flower Power’ movement. Mods and Rockers were conflicting subcultures.Mods rode scooters and wore stylish tailored clothes. ‘The Who’ was a mod band. Rockers rode motorcycles and wore leather jackets and were considered ‘grubby’.

1960s 1960s 1960s



The New Romantic Movement was a reaction against punk, beginning in London nightclubs. Influencd by bands such as Visage, Ultravox and Duran Duran, fashions included gothic make up and frilly shirts.

1980 - 1999


The Sensation Exhibition, first in London, showcased modern art by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and Sarag Lucas. It was criticised by many as it was so controversial.


Madonna was a style icon of the 1980s. She began the ‘messy chic’ look wearing tights and short pants, layers of shirts, sweatshirts and crucifix jewellery. She brought fame to Jean Paul Gaultier’s cone bra.

Hussein Chalayan graduated from Central Saint Martin in 1993. He is famous for unusual ideas, such as his graduate collection which he buried in the ground and dug up and again, and his ‘Coffee Table Skirt’.


Popular 1980s trends were neon colours, shell suits, roller discos, baggy sweatshirts with leggings and ankle warmers. ‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ popularized some of these even more.




‘Power Dressing’ became a trend when women became more important in the workplace and wanted clothes to show their equality to men. The television soap ‘Dynasty’ made shoulder pads popular.


Princess Diana married Prince Charles in 1981 and became a world leader of fashion. She died in 1997.

New technology meant major improvements in communication through internet, email, and mobile phones. The fashion industry today, as with most industries, relies on modern technology to function quickly.

Contextual Studies Timelines  

Contextual Studies Timelines

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