Dressing America: 50 Years of Women's Fashion

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Designed by Eve Carmody

To my mom — who sparked my love for fashion by teaching me how to sew and showing me how to be the ultimate thrifter.



Topic + Goals

Grunge + Femininity Anna Sui Love + Aaliyah



60s Mod + New Styles Ann Lowe Joplin + Welch

Y2K Tech Inspired Betsey Johnson Kelis + Richie



Polyester Decade Zelda Wynn Valdes Khan + Phillips

Fashion Today

1980s...14—19 Power Dressing Carolina Herrera Lauper + Jones

Introduction Dressing America: 50 Years of Women’s Fashion in America, covers the common styles, fashion, and America icons from the 1960s to the 2000s through a lens of inclusivity. The way we dress is a form of visual language. Fashion has always been a universal outlet for individuals to express themselves. Recently, fashion has experienced a revival of past trends, specifically from these five decades. Historically, the fashion world focuses on the dress of white women. This book attempts to acknowledge the history of women of color and their influence on the fashion industry. The goal of this book is to educate people on the fashion history of all women in America, but to also emphasize how our fashion today is greatly inspired by the past. We dress ourselves every day without knowing the history of the styles we wear or love. Research and decade overview text is credited to Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion History Timeline. Thank you to Dr. Justine De Young, editor of the Timeline, for giving me permission to use this text.


Broadly categorized, there were three main trends in 1960s womenswear: 1) the lady-like elegance inherited from the previous decade seen on the likes of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, 2) the fun, youthful designs popularized by Swinging London, and 3) the Eastern-influenced hippie styles of the late 1960s. Along with these diverse styles, there came a shift in the way that women shopped and for whom the styles were created. 2



60s MOD

In the early years of the decade, fashion continued along the lines of the 1950s. Skirt suits and coordinating accessories were emphasized as one decade transitioned into the next. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy epitomized this look during her husband’s presidential campaign and short presidency. She was admired around the world for her put-together, lady-like look consisting of boxy skirt-suits.

Along with the miniskirt came a craze for the playful, innovative use of new materials and a focus on scientific progress. Newly developed materials such as acrylics, polyesters, and shiny PVC were used in women’s clothing while designers were inspired by pop art and space. Sheath and A-line minidresses, both without defined waists, were popular silhouettes. These modern designs dominated the mid-sixties as fashion moved toward a more playful and freeing look.

One of the most revolutionary designs was the miniskirt and minidress. Eschewing the prim belowthe-knee skirts of the late 1950s and early 1960s, by the mid-sixties, young women were wearing skirts that fell at the upper thigh. Like the short skirts of the 1920s, the miniskirt shocked but was also a highly popular look for young women.

“HIPPIE” AESTHETIC While the miniskirt reached its height mid-decade, by the late 1960s, a new style and culture was emerging. Skirts dipped back to mid-calf and by 1969, the fulllength maxi-skirt had emerged. This came with the move towards the “hippie” aesthetic. Elizabeth Wilson writes in Gerta Buxbaum’s Icons of Fashion: The Twentieth Century, “Between 1965 and 1967, the uncluttered, futuristic design of André Courrèges and Mary Quant – featuring short skirts, childish pinafores, and boxy shapes – were superseded by a return to the styles of Art Nouveau, Hollywood, and William Morris.” Suede, headbands, kaftans, Afghan coats, beads and other non-Western elements of adornment were embraced as were flowing skirts and secondhand clothing.

DIVERSE STREET STYLE Both the “Mod” movement and the hippie movement were part of a new model of “street style” in which fashion is disseminated from the streets up to the designers rather than vice versa. Jane Mulvagh writes in Icons of Fashion, “1962 to 1968 were crucial years in which the allure and originality of street style challenged, and finally broke, the hegemony of high fashion” (86). The trajectory of fashion in the 1960s saw three very diverse overarching styles but also a shift from a designer-centric fashion ecosystem to one where the consumer was at the center of creation.

Text: Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion Timeline https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1960-1969/


Designer Spotlight: Ann Lowe EARLY YEARS Ann Cole Lowe was born in 1898, in Clayton County, Alabama. She was the grandchild of a slave woman named “Georgia” and a free black man, General Cole. The couple moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where their daughter, Ann helped her mother with the sewing. When Ann was sixteen, her mother died. Although coping with grief, Ann had to finish four unfinished gowns for Emmett O’Neal, wife of the governor of Alabama. Ann Lowe’s life had wonderful ups and downs. She married a black man named Lee Cohen. The marriage did not work, but it produced a son, Arthur Cohen, who handled her business until his untimely death in a car accident in 1958.

CAREER In order to make ends meet, she had to put her independent design career on hold and take jobs by designing anonymously for other labels and department stores such as Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Chez Sonia. By 1950, the stepping stones in Lowe’s career began to align and she finally launched her own label, Ann Lowe’s Gowns, with a small storefront on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Her one-of-a-kind designs made from the finest fabrics were an immediate success and attracted many wealthy, high society clients. One design element she was known for her fine handwork, signature flowers, and trapunto technique.

Montgomery’s Southern belles. While the BouvierKennedy wedding was a highly publicized event, Lowe did not receive public credit for her work.

LEGACY The social elite in New York, the Biddles, Vanderbilts, and Rockefellers wore her exquisite designs, but her lasting fame lies in the most photographed dress of its time —Jacqueline Kennedy’s gown. Throughout her career, Lowe continued to work for wealthy clientele who often talked her out of charging hundreds of dollars for her designs. After paying her staff, she often failed to make a profit on her designs. Lowe later admitted that at the height of her career, she was virtually broke. In 1961 she received the Couturier of the Year award but in 1962, she lost her salon in New York City after failing to pay taxes. In 1968, she opened a new store, Ann Lowe Originals, on Madison Avenue. She retired in 1972.

Text: E., Reed Miller Rosemary. Threads of Time, the Fabric of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designer, 1850 to the Present. Toast and Strawberries Press, 2002.

In 1953, Lowe received her most important commission to date – she was hired to design Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown. Ann derived inspiration from the gowns she remembered her grandmother made for


Fashion Icons & Influencers

Janis Joplin, (born January 19, 1943, Port Arthur, Texas, and died October 4, 1970), American singer, the premier white female blues vocalist of the 1960s, who dazzled listeners with her fierce and uninhibited musical style. Her distinctly amazing voice and carefree approach to being herself have made her a symbol of ’60s music and style. Joplin hevaily influenced the fashion style of the “hippie movement.” Joplin expressed her emotions through her ensembles, wearing flashy spangles and feathers on stage, along with leather, fur and vibrant, wild prints in her off-stage wardrobe. A revolutionary dresser starting at age 14, Janis emerged as a leader in Haight-Ashbury hippie fashion trends — a style that has evolved into bohemian and boho chic styles.


Raquel Welch was born as Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois to a Bolivian father and Irish-American mother. Her family moved to San Diego, California when Raquel was only two. Taking dance lessons as a youngster, she grew up to be a beautiful girl and nailed a number of teen beauty titles. Welch became a classic bombshell, and international sex symbol in America. She’s been repping for Latinas in Hollywood since 1964, when she appeared in her first film, “A House Is Not A Home.” In a time where Hollywood was about cookie-cutter looks and Anglo-identities, Raquel fought to keep using her name, and showcased a different interpretation of beauty. Her style in the 60s varied between 60s mod and bohemian, but her looks were always classic and timeless.


The seventies saw a wide range of popular styles: from the early prairie dresses influenced by hippie fashion, to the flashy party wear worn to disco nightclubs, to the rise of athletic wear as the decade looked towards the 1980s, the seventies was a decade that explored fashion, but also looked back.


1970s Overview POLYESTER DECADE As the Swinging Sixties turned into the 1970s, the influence of boutique stores and diffusion lines made ready-to-wear clothing increasingly accessible. New synthetic fabrics meant that fashionable styles could be bought at any price point. So pervasive were these materials that the seventies became known as the “Polyester Decade.”

COMMON STYLES + TRENDS Seventies fashion began with a continuation of the late 1960s hippie style. In the early 1970s, this meant an emphasis on handmade materials and decorations. While the hippies of the sixties had embraced these items as a way of rejecting mainstream

fashion, designers in the early seventies began to incorporate them into their high fashion collections. Patchwork, crochet and knitting, embroidery were among the details used by designers.

LOOKING TO THE PAST Along with an emphasis on handmade crafts, 70s designers looked to the past for inspiration. A pervasive style of the early 1970s was the prairie dress. Midi-length with flounces and delicate floral patterns, these dresses were popularized by designers and retailers like Gunne Sax and Bill Gibb. The style bore a resemblance to Victorian styles while also feeling not dissimilar to some of the hippie styles of the late 1960s.

EVENING WEAR While daywear looked to the past, evening wear was thoroughly modern. While it may have been known as the “Polyester Decade,” satin, sequins and velvet ruled the dance floor. As disco became increasingly popular, women’s evening wear became increasingly glamorous. In the early 70s, women could be seen wearing sequins and hot pants to the disco. Sparkle and glamour remained ubiquitous throughout the decade and the short minidresses and hot pants earlier in the decade became longer, swirling dresses and skirts in the later part. This change was accompanied by a shift from chunky heels to strappy sandals.

WOMENSWEAR BREAKING THE MOLD Throughout the sixties and seventies, women were gaining increasing sexual freedoms and this was reflected in their clothing. New styles were created and women began to wear clothing heavily inspired by menswear. This was a shift from the years before when trousers were only seen as acceptable for days spent around the house. New patterns, such as animal print, and accessories like fur coats made them all the more glamorous.

Text: Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion Timeline https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1970-1979/


Designer Spotlight: Zelda Wynn Valdes EARLY YEARS


Zelda Wynn Valdes was born June 18, 1905, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. She trained as a classical pianist at the Catholic Conservatory of Music. In the early 1920s, Valdes started to work in the tailoring shop of her uncle in White Plains, New York. Around the same time, Valdes began working as a stock girl at a high-end boutique. She eventually worked her way up to selling and making alterations, becoming the shop’s first black sales clerk and tailor.

Valdes designed gowns for stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Dandridge and even Marlene Dietrich. Valdes also created a new sexier image for singer Joyce Bryant who LIFE Magazine dubbed “the Black Marilyn Monroe”. In the 1950s, she moved “Chez Zelda” to 151 57th Street in Midtown. She had a staff of nine dressmakers and charged almost $1,000 per couture gown. But perhaps what she is most known for is her involvement in creating the iconic Playboy costume allegedly commissioned by Hugh Hefner himself.


Hefner commissioned Zelda to design bunny costumes for the Playboy Playmates, an idea suggested by Victor Lownes. She created the original Playboy Bunny costume, which was presented at the opening of the first Playboy Club in Chicago, IL on February 29, 1960. It was also the first commercial uniform to be registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Beginning in 1935, she had her own dressmaking business in White Plains, New York. Eventually she worked her way up to becoming a seamstress and she became known for her technical precision. She eventually oversaw ladies alterations, and developed her own dressmaking clientele. In the 1960s, Valdes directed the Fashion and Design Workshop of the Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited and Associated Community Teams (HARYOU-ACT). Valdes taught costume designing skills and facilitated fabric donations to the student workshops. She was one of Association of industry group professionals. sponsorship of

the founders of the National Fashion Accessory Designers, an intended to promote black design This group was established with the the National Council of Negro Women.

In 1970, Arthur Mitchell asked Valdes to design costumes for his new company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem.By 1992, Valdes would design costumes for eighty-two productions. She closed her business in 1989 but continued to work with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Text: “Zelda Wynn Valdes.” Fashionabc, www.fashionabc.org/ wiki/zelda-wynn-valdes/


Born on March 23, 1953, in Great Lakes, Illinois, singer Chaka Khan achieved great success as part of the soul-funk band “Rufus”, delivering hits like “Tell Me Something Good,” “Sweet Thing” and “Hollywood.” She embarked on a solo career in the late ‘70s and made waves on the charts again with tunes like “I’m Every Woman,” “I Feel for You,” “This Is My Night” and “Through the Fire.” A phenomenal vocalist, Khan has won numerous Grammy Awards. In 1969, Khan became active in the Black power movement, joining the Black Panther Party and working with the organization’s free breakfast program for children. Around this time, she took on a new name: Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. Long before she was considered the Queen of Funk, Khan dressed the part. The child of artists, Khan stayed true to her counterculture upbringing in the ’70s, with flowing maxi dresses and flower-child hair accessories adorning her afro. Her colorful onstage looks evolved with each decade. Midriff-baring spangled blouses and jumpsuits adorned with feathers made up her sultry onstage wardrobe during concerts with “Rufus”.


Fashion Icons & Influencers

Anya Phillips was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1955. Her mother, Bi Li-na, had grown up in Beijing and left for Taiwan around the time of the Chinese Communist Revolution in the late 1940s. As a teenager at Taipei American School, Phillips spent hours sketching clothing designs. Although Phillips could not sew, she had her garments handmade by local tailors, which likely sharpened her own instincts in cut, fit and detailing. Phillips moved to Manhattan in 1974 after graduating from high school and aspired to make a name for herself as a fashion designer in New York City. By then, Phillips had realized that the traditional path was not for her after dropping out of Parsons School of Design. Instead, she rooted herself in the punk scene — merging the underground culture with the mainstream fashion she’d grown up admiring — and quickly became as known for her cutout, form-fitting dresses as she was for her eclectic style. Phillips was also an artist, photographer and actress in underground films. She was good friends with Debbie Harry (AKA Blondie) and designed some of her outfits. Phillips’ style had a huge impact on 70s punk rock fashion.


In the 1980s, bigger meant better across the board in fashion. From women’s shoulder pads to men’s power suits to bold colors and patterns for men, women and children, there was nothing understated about fashion in the eighties.

198 14

80s 15



A decade typified by its “power dressing,” the 1980s actually opened with stylish sportswear and the soft ‘New Romantics’ style. Carrying on from the late 1970s trend for sportswear and encouraged by a fitness craze, women increasingly wore stylish gym wear in their day-to-day life. Dance-wear inspired fashion including off-the-shoulder sweatshirts and leggings, while Jane Fonda’s exercise videos also encouraged these styles. Editor Kathryn Hennessy notes how this produced a significant shift how fashion was worn in Fashion: The Ultimate Book of Fashion and Style: “Women’s bodies were now shaping the clothes, rather than clothes shaping the body” (388).

In the early 1980s, the romantic style typified by the prairie dresses of the 1970s continued. Princess Diana’s fairy-tale wedding dress by David and Elizabeth Emanuel exemplified this trend. Puffed sleeves, oversized accessories such as belts and bows, and historical references made bold statements.

POWER DRESSING As the decade progressed, so-called “power dressing” began to dominate. This reflected a shift in women working in high-powered positions and using fashion to be taken seriously. Padded shoulders and bold accessories made up this look. Hennessy writes, “As more women entered traditionally male oriented work environments, they found it advantageous to dress as though they were in command, and sure of their sexuality. This meant jackets with heavily padded shoulders, vibrant colours, big hairdos, bold accessories, and shoes with pointed toes and spiked heels (396).”

PREPPY COMEBACK Though the dominant trend of the 1980s was bigger is better, taffeta and bright colors, other designers emerged and created their own styles. For daywear, styles came to represent casual American style and were adopted as a ‘preppy’ style in the US (‘preppy’ referencing the elite preparatory schools attended by wealthy teens). The style was influenced by traditional Ivy League and Seven Sisters style, as well as the dress of early twentieth-century British aristocrats. In her book Seven Sisters Style, Rebecca C. Tuite writes, “Lauren’s interpretation of the collegiate look was never a costume or a disguise; it was an understated appreciation of good, classic style” (104). Tuite continues to note that the look was interpreted in many ways throughout the decade: “The preppy fashions of the 1980s ranged from understated and classic to gaudy and ironic” (107).

Text: Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion Timeline https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1980-1989/


Designer Spotlight: Carolina Herrera EARLY LIFE Carolina Herrera was born as María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño in Caracas, Venezuela, on January 8, 1939. Herrera experienced a privileged childhood in Venezuela. She was one of four daughters born to Guillermo Pacanins and María Cristina Niño. Her father served as an air force officer, governor of Caracas and Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Herrera had a governess who taught her English and French. Her youthful pastimes included tennis, riding and ballet, but not sewing clothes for her dolls. “When I was growing up, I was more into my horses and tennis than fashion,” Herrera admitted. Yet fashion was a part of Herrera’s life. At 13 her grandmother took her to a Balenciaga runway show. Around the age of 14 or 15, Herrera designed a black dress that was inspired by movies from the 1930s and ‘40s, though her parents didn’t let her wear it.


experience. She also had no formal design training. But she had an eye for style and could tap into useful connections. Armando de Armas, the owner of a successful magazine publishing firm, offered to back her enterprise. Designer Bill Blass gave her tips on runway stagecraft.

LEGACY In 1981, Herrera held her first fashion show at New York’s Metropolitan Club. She has said, “I think I thought I would do one collection, and that would be that.” Instead she received orders from stores that included Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Herrera’s designs have been worn by several high-profile people, including Laura Bush, Renée Zellweger, Tina Fey, Lady Gaga, Lucy Liu and Taylor Swift. Herrera also designed the wedding dress for the Twilight film Breaking Dawn – Part 1.

Text: “Carolina Herrera.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 15 Sept. 2021, www.biography.com/fashion-designer/carolina-herrera.

In 1980, Herrera and her husband settled in New York. Around this time, she came up with the idea of designing fabrics. But when Herrera shared her plans with friend Diana Vreeland, then the editor of Vogue, Vreeland reportedly responded, “Oh, that’s so boring. Why don’t you do something else? Why don’t you do a collection of dresses? It’s much more fun.” Herrera had been employed by Pucci in Caracas for a short time in the 1960s, but otherwise had no work


Fashion Icons & Influencers Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper was born on June 22, 1953, in Astoria, New York. She discovered a love of singing and music at an early age, and was writing her own songs by the age of 12. She eventually became an award-winning American singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the 1980s with a string of pop hits such as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Lauper co-established the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit organization aimed to address the issue of youth homelessness among the LGBTQA+ community. Lauper was known for her distinctive, freespirited image that was influenced by bold trends of the ‘80s. An armful of stacked bracelets, bright-colored locks, and retro cut dresses and skirts, Lauper blended the boldness of the ‘80s with punk-rock elements when it came to her ensembles.


Born in Jamaica before relocating to Syracuse, New York with her family, Grace Jones embarked on a successful career as a model in New York City and Paris. In 1977, Jones secured her first record deal resulting in a string of dance-club hits including “I Need A Man” and her acclaimed reinvention of Edith Piaf’s classic “La Vie En Rose.” During this period Jones became a fixture on the international club scene and was often seen at New York City’s famed nightclub Studio 54. Jones also became a muse to Andy Warhol who photographed her extensively and created a series of iconic portraits of her. Gender fluidity is a facet that has defined both Grace’s personal style and persona since the beginning of her career. Avant-garde, sexy, androgynous, Grace’s ground-breaking personal style altered the late 70s and 80s fashion. Since, it has influenced culture — and future pop acts — at large.



As the 20th century came to a close, fashion reached its most casual. Both men and women adopted grunge fashion in the early part of the decade and loose, oversized clothing and jeans became staples. As the decade progressed, women’s fashion became more streamlined as minimalism became de rigueur.




At the beginning of the decade, the high fashion supermodel peaked with models such as Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell pictured on the front of Vogue in 1990. Kathryn Hennessey writes in Fashion: The Ultimate Book of Costume and Style (2012): “The phenomenon of the ‘supermodel’ reached its height in the 1990s and among the most celebrated were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington. When these four strutted down the catwalk arm in arm during Versace’s 1991 Autumn/ Winter fashion show in Milan they were more famous than the clothes.” (409)

While the decade began with the popularity of these high fashion and larger-than-life styles of the 80s, fashion quickly moved toward less glamorous and more casual dress. The sportswear looks of the eighties continued into the early nineties with biker shorts, leggings, Keds, and oversized sweatshirts continuing to be favorite choices for young women. The early part of the decade also saw a revival of 1960s and 1970s styles such as mini-skirts, flares, and Punk styles. The desire for vintage clothing encouraged the spread of second-hand clothing stores which were also used for the grunge fashion. A style that emerged in Seattle in the late 1980s, by the early nineties, it was a widespread look that was based on everyday clothing such as baggy, worn-out jeans, flannel shirts and Doc Martens boots. For women, this also included simple slip dresses often worn with chunky boots. In the mid-nineties, styles became more feminine again. Slip dresses epitomized the minimalist look during this period. Silky versions were worn as formalwear while a popular daytime look was a slip dress over a white t-shirt. The ‘sexy schoolgirl’ look as seen in movies like “Clueless” and later in the decade in Britney Spears “…Baby One More Time” music video became popular during the middle of the decade. Undersized sweaters, baby doll t-shirts and knee high socks all made up this look that was worn by young women.


Text: Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion Timeline https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1990-1999/


With the new millennium looming, women’s fashion turned to a more bohemian style with influences from the 1970s. Embroidery, mixed fabrics and Eastern influences made their way into fashion once again. De la Haye and Tucker write: “From 1996 to the end of the decade, the bohemian look became the overriding trend within womenswear at all market levels, incorporating the adapted ethnic embroideries of Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, the bold colour sense of young British designer Matthew Williamson and the irreverent mixtures of fabrics from Milanese design houses such as Marni and Fendi.” (Laver 288) With the new casual, bohemian styles came low-slung jeans and crop-tops, which would be the hallmark of the coming decade.

Designer Spotlight: Anna Sui EARLY LIFE


Born in 1964 in Michigan, Sui was only four years old when she decided to be a designer. As a teenager, she read a piece of writing in Life Magazine that described the life of a woman who was a graduate from Parsons The New School for Design and the shifted to Paris where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor opened a boutique for her. At the time, Sui had found her ticket to fashion and she dreamt about moving to the same institute. After years when Sui was a little mature, she re-read the story and discovered that the girl was the daughter of Irving Penn, a legendary photographer. Sui became more ambitious and embarked on a journey to fulfill her childhood dream. She too joined Parsons The New School of Design.

Rock music has been Sui’s initial stimulation towards fashion designing. She was involved at the time’s punk scene and was highly attracted to rock stars’ dressing style. For her, they were the most interesting individuals. Later on, she approached other kinds of designs and cuts for her clothes rather than using only music as her foundation.

After her graduation, Sui gained hands-on experience in the field by making designs for sportswear brands and by styling models on photo shoots of Steven Meisel. Around the same time, she started designing and producing apparel on her own from her apartment. Whilst working at Glenora, Sui presented her five piece collection at a trade show in New York and managed to attract some department stores of the city. After a few weeks, her clothes were shown through an advertisement in New York Times. Seeing this, Glenora‘s manager was upset and fired her instantly. Left unemployed, Sui invested her saving of $300 on a business she operated from the living room of her flat. For several years, her company remained this way and for extra income she did odd-jobs. All her earning were re-invested into the business. The 80s were a golden period for companies like Versace, Lacoix and Chanel. With such a fashion landscape, it was difficult (but not impossible) for Sui to stand up to the position of such big names.

Sui’s career breakthrough happened when supermodels, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell as well as Meisel and Madonna, who have been her long-time friends, convinced Sui to conduct a catwalk show. Hence, the designer rented a petite place and hired models to conduct the retrospective. Campbell and Evangelista were the star performers and Sui’s collection was praised by the audience. Sui loves art and history since there is so much to explore and learn. She mixes the two together in her designs in a way that the outcome makes sense.

LEGACY The Time publication ranked Anna Sui among the top five icons of fashion of the decade. She has been acknowledged by The New York Times as well. The Newsweek profiled her in its segment on leadership in women. Moreover, she was presented with a CFDA Geoffrey Beene award for Lifetime Achievement. Sui became an icon of the grunge fashion movement in the 90s. Text: “Anna Sui: Fashion Designer Biography.” FAMOUS FASHION DESIGNERS, www.famousfashiondesigners.org/anna-sui.


Courtney Love, original name Love Michelle Harrison, (born July 9, 1964, San Francisco, California, U.S.), American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actress best known for her influential rock band “Hole”, her careless attitude, and for iconic relationship with Nirvana’s lead singer. Known to wear slips as dresses, Love has a way of making romantic pieces look edgy: She’ll pair ruffles with effortless bedhead, or go barefoot onstage in a lace dress. Perhaps her style secret is as simple as knowing when to add a red lip or accessorize with a cigarette. She was the epitome of grunge in the 90s.

Fashion Icons & Influencers Brooklyn-born in 1979, Aaliyah Dana Haughton started voice lessons shortly after she learned to talk. Signed to a recording contract at the age of 12, Aaliyah became an overnight R&B sensation. At the height of her stardom, a fatal plane crash ended her life. Her trademark baggy pants and oversized shirts simply reflect the sense of style she developed as a child. She always loved wearing her father and brother’s clothes. Aaliyah had a huge impact on hip-hop/Y2K fashion and remains a style icon today.



As the new decade and millennium dawned, fashion largely continued along the same trajectory that had started in the late 1990s. However, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, fashion returned to conservatism. With the rise of new technology, fashion spread quickly and celebrities played a key role in consumer choices as images were shared through the internet instantly. While popular styles changed over the years, one item remained ubiquitous throughout the decade: denim jeans. 27

2000s Overview LOOKING TO TECHNOLOGY At the turn of the millennium, fashion looked to the future as technology began seeing the rapid development that would lead to the widespread use of smartphones and social media by the end of the decade. The emphasis on new technology inspired fashion with metallic silvers, blacks and the use of straps and belts to create a Matrix-esque look. The use of leather, trench coats, and straps contributed to a style that harkened towards a new age of technology and innovation.

COMMON STYLES + TRENDS However, after the events of 9/11 and the mortgage crisis of 2001, fashion turned back towards conservatism. In America especially, this marked the rise of jeans for every occasion. This stayed true throughout the decade, however, the dominant style changed over the years. In the early 2000s, low-rise,

flared jeans were prevalent while by the mid-2000s, bootcut jeans had grown more popular. During this period, True Religion and 7 for all Mankind were staple denim brands. Jeans were even worn on the red carpet with True Religion a popular option as chosen by Jessica Alba. In 2005, skinny jeans were introduced and were commonplace by 2006. Distressed jeans – purposefully ripped, frayed, or otherwise worn jeans were a hallmark of the era, and jeans were accepted as appropriate attire in nearly all situations during the decade. In the early part of the decade, the bohemian (or boho) look took hold as a more sophisticated take on the grunge look of the nineties. While grunge emphasized the dressed-down and worn look of second-hand clothing, boho styles utilized vintage second-hand styles instead. In Fashion: The Ultimate Book of Costume and Style, Kathryn Hennessey writes (2012), “Instead of scouring second-hand shops for well-worn oversized sweaters and army surplus gear, bohos went to expensive clothing boutiques. In Paris it was called bobo, which stood for bourgeois-bohème, implying that it was an affectation of middle-class champagne socialists.” During the early to mid-part of the decade, skin was in. Tiny mini-skirts, often denim, might be worn with Ugg boots. Ultra-low-rise jeans were accompanied by tight, cropped shirts to show off the midriff. The decade was littered with various ‘It’ items that all the fashionable set had. ‘It’ items from the decade include the Von Dutch trucker hats, Juicy Couture velour tracksuit, Ugg boots, and the baguette bag among others. Throughout the decade, the dissemination of fashion through technology, whether from instantly sharing celebrity looks online or through e-commerce, increased instances of affordable copies. Celebrities played a massive role in consumer choices, while high street copies of designer styles were produced quickly and cheaply for the masses. From the technology-inspired clothing at the turn of the millennium to the sharing of trends through social media to the sale of fashion online, the story of fashion in the 2000s was linked to technology from beginning to end.

Text: Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fashion Timeline https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/2000-2009/


Designer Spotlight: Betsey Johnson EARLY LIFE Fashion designer Betsey Johnson was born on August 10, 1942, in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Johnson grew up in the nearby town of Terryville as a child, where she indulged in her two greatest loves: drawing and dance. She had a precocious talent for art, and throughout her youth, she trained in various styles of dance. In fact, it was a combination of these two interests that eventually led Johnson to fashion designing. She loved the elaborate costumes she wore for her dance recitals and spent many long afternoons sketching costume ideas. “What I tried to do was a combination of dance and art,” she recalls. Johnson says that she settled on fashion designing when “I realized that making clothes is completing what a drawing can’t be—going from two dimensional to reality.” Johnson was a cheerleader in high school, and upon graduating in 1960 she decided to pursue her interests in art and design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. But after one year at Pratt, she transferred to Syracuse University, where she proved a stellar student, graduating magna cum laude as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society in 1964.


cues from the more avant-garde London fashion scene, Johnson — along with designer Mary Quant and artist Andy Warhol — helped pioneer what became known as the ‘Youthquake’ movement in fashion, art and culture. In 1970, Johnson left Paraphernalia to assume creative control of Alley Cat, a youthful sportswear brand, where she continued to design clothes with bright colors, outlandish patterns and sexy fits. In 1971, in honor of her work at Alley Cat, Johnson won the prestigious Coty Fashion Critics Award, becoming, at only 29 years old, the youngest designer ever to receive the honor.

LEGACY She is best known for her feminine and whimsical designs. Many of her designs are considered ‘over the top’ and embellished. She is also known for doing a cartwheel ending in a split at the end of her fashion shows. The company currently has 65 stores worldwide, including locations in London, Toronto and Tokyo.

Text: “Betsey Johnson.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 25 May 2021, www.biography.com/fashion-designer/ betsey-johnson.

Almost immediately after graduating from college, Johnson made her first splash in the New York fashion industry by winning Mademoiselle magazine’s Guest Editor Contest and earning a job with the magazine’s art department. Only one year later, in 1965, Johnson landed a job as a designer at Paraphernalia, an offbeat New York clothing boutique. It was at Paraphernalia that Johnson developed her whimsical, hippie-inspired style, characterized by the use of unique fabrics such as shower curtains, the interior lining of automobiles and the pinstriped wool of old New York Yankees uniforms. Johnson is also known for employing bright, neon dyes, puffed sleeves, deep necklines, and low waists. Taking her


Fashion Icons & Influencers Kelis Rogers is mononymously famous for her stage name Kelis. She was born on August 21st, 1979 in Harlem, New York. The name “Kelis” was coined by her father and mother’s names. Her father was called Kenneth and her mother, Eveliss. Blending the two names, she was named Kelis after being born. Kelis got most of the musical inspiration from her mother who worked as a fashion designer. She motivated her into striving for her music career and exploiting her potential. Kelis was popular during the 2000s and repackaged sounds familiar to hip-hop, R&B, rock, and funk. She is well known for her hit singles “Milkshake” and “Bossy.” Kelis’ personal style can be described as chic, effortless, and original. She wasn’t affraid to mix textures and prints. Her early 2000s looks were heavily inspired by “The Matrix.”


Richie was born Nicole Camille Escovedo in Berkeley, California, on September 21, 1981. She is the daughter of musician Lionel Richie, first gained fame when she starred with childhood friend Paris Hilton on the reality show “The Simple Life.” Today, Richie is the designer of the lifestyle brand House of Harlow 1960, clothing line Winter Kate and a reality TV show judge. Richie’s style in the early 2000s has been called many things but none so spot-on as “2000s glam-tack.” She nailed this bittersweet look through a style that included heavy eye makeup and bold accessories mixed with girly, but revealing, apparel. No one conquered the look of the early millennium as well as Richie: itty-bitty slinky cocktail dresses, leg warmers, Juicy Couture tracksuits, and holding puppies as the must-have accessory.




Fashion today is eclectic, vibrant, and diverse, but somehow we always go back in time for style inspiration. People wear clothing everyday without knowing what decade they are inspired from. Today in America, more than ever before, women are able to dress and express themselves how they want. It’s more than just material clothes, it’s an outlet for individuals to discover themselves.




Johnny Cirillo’s Instagram @watchingnewyork

Allaire, Christian. “Why Courtney Love’s ‘90s Wardrobe Still Resonates Today.” Vogue, Vogue, 9 July 2020, www.vogue.com/slideshow/courtney-love-90sfashion-moments.

Rosie McGuinness Fashion Illustrations, https://agentandartists.com/artists/ rosie-mcguinness/bio/

“Anna Sui about Page.” Anna Sui, annasui.com/pages/anna-sui-about-page. Buxbaum, Gerda. Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century. Prestel, 2005.

1960s Alexandre Marain, translated by Rosa Cecilia Gosling. “The Most Beautiful Photos of Raquel Welch.” Vogue France, Vogue France, 5 Sept. 2018, www. vogue.fr/fashion-culture/fashion-exhibitions/diaporama/bombshell-birthday-raquel-welch-vintage-shots-cinema/52651. Buxbaum, Gerda. Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century. Prestel, 2005.

Devaney, Susan. “10 Classic ‘90s Looks from Aaliyah, the Original Midriff-Flosser.” British Vogue, British Vogue, 19 Sept. 2020, www.vogue.co.uk/ fashion/gallery/aaliyah-90s-outfits. “Reinvention & Restlessness: Fashion in the Nineties.” Home, 1 Apr. 2022, www.fitnyc.edu/museum/exhibitions/fashion-in-the-nineties.php. Taylor, Kerry, et al. Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to Mcqueen. Mitchell Beazley an Imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd., 2013.

E., Reed Miller Rosemary. Threads of Time, the Fabric of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designer, 1850 to the Present. Toast and Strawberries Press, 2002. Taylor, Kerry, et al. Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to Mcqueen. Mitchell Beazley an Imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd., 2013. Yotka, Steff. “A New Documentary Will Make Janis Joplin Your Fall Fashion Icon.” Vogue, Vogue, 2 Sept. 2015, www.vogue.com/article/janis-joplin-style-fall-fashion.

1970s Buxbaum, Gerda. Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century. Prestel, 2005. E., Reed Miller Rosemary. Threads of Time, the Fabric of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designer, 1850 to the Present. Toast and Strawberries Press, 2002. Ho, Julie Hoangmy. “Overlooked No More: Anya Phillips, Fashion Influencer in New York’s Punk Scene.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Nov. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/obituaries/anya-phillips-overlooked.html. Okwodu, Janelle. “Happy Birthday, Chaka Khan! Still ‘Ain’t Nobody’ like the Queen of Funk.” Vogue, Vogue, 23 Mar. 2017, www.vogue.com/article/chakakhan-birthday-queen-of-funk-style. Taylor, Kerry, et al. Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to Mcqueen. Mitchell Beazley an Imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd., 2013.

2000s “Betsey Johnson Spring 2000 Ready-to-Wear Collection.” Vogue, Vogue, 13 Sept. 1999, www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2000-ready-to-wear/betsey-johnson. Borge , Jonathan. “Throwback Pics of Nicole Richie from the Early 2000s.” InStyle, www.instyle.com/celebrity/nicole-richie-early-2000s-throwback-pictures?slide=10c77dbb-0156-4530-8f2c-cf70f358aef5#10c77dbb-0156-4530-8f2ccf70f358aef5. Buxbaum, Gerda. Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century. Prestel, 2005. Roby, India. “Kelis Wore Every Y2K Fashion Trend That’s Cool Now.” Nylon, Nylon, 26 Aug. 2021, www.nylon.com/fashion/kelis-style-2000s-fashion-outfits. Taylor, Kerry, et al. Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to Mcqueen. Mitchell Beazley an Imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd., 2013.

CONCLUSION Johnny Cirillo’s Instagram @watchingnewyork

1980s Anderson, Kristin. “She’s so Unusual! 6 Modern Ways to Channel Cyndi Lauper’s Iconic Style.” Vogue, Vogue, 22 June 2016, www.vogue.com/article/cyndi-lauper-style-fashion-girls-just-wanna-have-fun. Borrelli-Persson, Laird. “A Look Back at Carolina Herrera’s Best Looks in Vogue as the Designer Hands the Reins to Wes Gordon.” Vogue, Vogue, 9 Feb. 2018, www.vogue.com/article/carolina-herrera-in-vogue-from-the-archives. Buxbaum, Gerda. Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century. Prestel, 2005. Kendall, Zoë. “7 Of Grace Jones’ Most Iconic Outfits.” I-D, 18 Sept. 2020, i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/y3z7pw/7-of-grace-jones-most-iconic-outfits. Taylor, Kerry, et al. Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to Mcqueen. Mitchell Beazley an Imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd., 2013. Valenti, Lauren. “Happy Birthday, Grace Jones! 18 Times the Fearless Pop Icon Broke the Beauty Mold.” Vogue, Vogue, 19 May 2018, www.vogue.com/article/grace-jones-best-iconic-beauty-looks-shaved-head-flattop-80s-makeupslave-to-the-rhythm.


Text Sources 1960s


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Colophon This book was designed by Eve Carmody for her Senior Graphic Design Thesis Project at SUNY New Paltz. It was set in the typefaces Wagon and Latin Modern Mono with different weights. The book was printed and bound by Blurb, an online printing company. Special thanks to Professor Andrea Varga and Professor Amy Papaelias for making this all happen. May 2022 || evecarmody.com


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