LONDON . NEW YORK . DUBAI . SHANGHAI . FLORENCE
CELEBR ATING CENTURIES OF DRESS EVOLUTION
London Fashion Matters Gala, The Savoy Friday 10 October 2014 New York Tuxedo Park Autumn Ball 25 October 2014 Dubai The Art of Dress Exhibition and The Creative Circle Symposium A4 Space by Alserkal Avenue 2 – 4 November 2014
London College of Fashion is delighted to present The Art of Dress, an exhibition of clothes, accessories, costume, writing, images and multimedia from students across a variety of courses.
Shanghai Shanghai Museum of Textiles and Costume Donghua University 8 November – 3 December 2014 Florence 17th Annual IFFTI Conference Polimoda, Florence 12 – 16 May 2015
These inspirations continue to find their way into all aspects of a modern wardrobe, even if in the tiniest detail or the subtlest nuance. Even after centuries of fashion changes there are still distinct echoes and threads passing through contemporary dress.
The intention of the work is to reflect both the past, and where dress comes from, as well as to explore the future, and where it might go. The exhibition presents the whole story, from the historical and contextual evidence gathered by the students in the form of essays, to their interpretations in the form of film work as well as their design vision.
The azure blue of heraldry is reflected in the azure blue coat, dress and hat of the present queen, the fragile white embroidery of a summer dress harks back to the tea gowns of Queen Alexandra, and the stiff brocade of a Prada coat reminds us of the court of Henry VIII.
The work has been created to provoke discussion through investigating new methods, old silhouettes, new attitudes, and ancestral voices. The ceremony of dress and the origins of much fashion can be directly traced to the courts of the world, where fashion and dress were at their most aspirational. The rituals and manners of court life are reflected in much of the evolution of dress, alongside formal and occasion dress. Over the centuries observers and admirers would take up a colour, a detail or even just the way a sleeve hung as their way of reflecting their desires.
Students have looked at a range of subjects, influences and ideas to create dress as an art form, and to pay homage to the courts and formalities of yesterday. They celebrate experimental creativity in combining the symbols and traditions of the past with their interpretation of the dresses of the future.
Professor Frances Corner OBE Head of London College of Fashion
With thanks to James Rees, Anthony John Sayer, Kenny Leung, Marie Bruce, Martha Zmpounou and Johannes Daniel Models, Beth Donaghy and Harriet Rose at Select. Max Granger at AMCK. Paige TysonSimmons at LCF Street Casting. 2
THE POWER OF BLUE
The Power of Blue: from Heraldry to Catwalk Rebekah Cheng
Blue - the colour of nature’s vast oceans, limitless skies and for a time, an obsession of Picasso. The latter went through a ‘Blue Period’ between 1901-1904, producing a series of monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green. Whilst Picasso may have chosen the palette as a reflection of his depressed state, Blue also brings to mind feelings of ultramasculinity, success and authority. Its symbol of power and status - adopted by royal families everywhere - can be attributed to its novelty as a colour. The manufacture of blue dyes began in Egypt but the recipe for this was lost in the Middle Ages. Its sheer rarity and cost to produce gave Blue its aristocratic associations.
Perhaps this gives Blue its regal, nature and why for SS15, Aquamarine topped the women’s Pantone colour chart (Dusky Blue was first choice for men). Unsurprisingly, the core anchoring hue was Classic Blue. Nevertheless, whether Cerulean or Cyan, Blue continues to wow the catwalk and red carpet.
1 womenswear by oksana anilionyte ba (hons) fashion design technology: womenswear photogr aph: james rees 2 womenswear by felipe hiroshi goto ba (hons) fashion design and development photogr aph: james rees 3 ‘blue sculpture dress’ isabella cotier ba (hons) fashion illustr ation
At the 2014 Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o stole the show in her sky blue, Grecian Prada pleated gown. Different shades of blue were the colours of choice for a string of other Hollywood starlets, like Sandra Bullock, who wore a navy blue Alexander McQueen gown.
4 womenswear by harriet o’connor ba (hons) fashion design technology: womenswear photogr aph: orsolya luca
Whatever your opinion of Blue may be, there is power in this colour. Just look at Facebook.
As a heraldic colour, Blue or ‘azure’ represents the sapphire jewel, as well as signifying piety and sincerity. 3
Sir Norman Hartnell and the Royal family wardrobe: Fashion’s First Knight Rebekah Cheng
Infamous for dressing the beau monde and a favourite amongst the royals, Sir Norman Hartnell designed with opulence and adorned his handiwork with lavish detail. One of his most celebrated pieces continues to be the wedding dress of then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, for her marriage to Prince Philip – embroidered with ten thousand seed pearls, no less. Born in 1901 in Streatham, south west London, Hartnell attended Mill Hill School followed by Magdalene College at Cambridge where he read Modern Languages. Though he left without a degree, he gained recognition by designing costumes for the celebrated Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club. Catching the eye of the Evening Standard, they acknowledged him as “the British dress genius of the future.” Despite the attention, Hartnell struggled to get a job in fashion. With the help of his family, he opened his first boutique along Bruton Street in
1923. A few years later, he received his first royal commission from Lady Alice Montagu-Douglass-Scott, then fiancé of the King’s youngest son, the Duke of Gloucester. Hartnell designed her pearl pink satin wedding dress and crucially, dresses for her young bridesmaids, Princess Elizabeth and Margaret. This opened the door to a distinguished relationship between the designer and the royal family, right until his death. Throughout his career, though Hartnell gained remarkable media attention, his credentials as a couture designer were largely overlooked. Critics say his relationship with the House of Windsor restricted his creative flair and left him boxed into irrelevance as fashion changed with the times. Nevertheless, Hartnell’s business continued even after his passing, with support from Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother and a string of unwavering royals.
hartnell at work in his london studio during wartime
“I despise simplicity. It is the negation of all that is beautiful.” - Sir Norman Hartnell
1 Womenswear by Luke Bullen BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees 2 Womenswear by Ruri Watanabe BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees
ETERNAL EMBROIDERY: the craft that spans the centuries from the earliest court of dress through to Elie Saab Janine Bartels
Dating back to the middle ages, lavishly embroidered textiles were commissioned for the royalty and nobility. Little of the luxurious clothing has survived from the past, but the pieces that have withstood the test of time date back to the 13th century and onwards. This early embroidery from England is called Opus Anglicanum (English work), and it was produced by professional embroiderers. Preceding this, amateur needlewoman had embroidered as early as the 8th century. During the peak period of Opus Anglicanum, it was as coveted as paintings and goldsmithsâ€™ works. Embroidery was not confined to the elaborate silk and and velvet garments, but also decorated the fabric of furnishings. Eventually come the 15th century, demand exceeded production and embroiders were forced to develop work quicker using easier methods that involved creating smaller embroidery on separate linens that were later stitched onto more luxurious fabrics.
Embroidered Panel Morris and Company
The delicate embroidered motifs were not only confined to the British Courts, but China had recognized embroidery as a symbolized social status during the Shang Dynasty. China is recognized for the discovery of silk, and takes credit for being the epicenter of where the art of embroidery originated.
1 Womenswear by Henriett Juhasz BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: Orsolya Luca
Looking back, people admire the sense of craftsmanship that appeared centuries before. However, the craft of embroidery still exits today and is a signature of Elie Saab. The Haute Couture house creates decorative princess gowns composed of the finest lace and silk organza, and tremblante with sequins. Floor length dresses are adorned with paillettes, pearls and cabochons gemstones one Elie Saab wedding dress with its exquisite embroidery and fragile tulle can take up to three months to create with a whole team of embroiders manning the looms. The art of the craft survives.
Wom anâ€™s summer robe embroidery detail
Elie Sa ab Wedding Dress Paris Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2012
TSARINAS & KOKOCHINKS
LA VIEILLE RUSSIES Stephanie King
A long way from the dress of 19th and 20th century Tsarinas, women’s fashion today may not resemble that of Imperial Russia, but its current designs are certainly not without strong Eastern European influences. Whether it’s a nod to traditional folkwear or a riff off costumes worn during Ballets Russes performances, modern clothing is flourished with elements from Russia’s eventful history. Most notably, the relatively recent Pre-Fall ’09 collection by esteemed French fashion house Chanel. The Parisian label’s Paris-Moscou line imagined by Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld is an homage to its founder, Coco Chanel and her affinity for Slavic culture and Byzantine artefacts. Pearl-anddiamanté-embellished coats, metallic Cossack boots, fur ushankas and shapkas, and dresses adorned in Fabergé egg jewel detailing are examples of Chanel’s modern interpretation of Russia’s heritage. Fashion giants Dior, John Galliano and Kenzo’s similarly themed AW09 collections were equally dripping in inspiration from Russia’s royal past, but they also bear the signature of its other significant, cultural contribution: the Ballets Russes. The designs shown on the Fall runways of these labels hint at the art movements of post-Impressionism, Cubism and Constructivism; concepts
for which the Ballets Russes became renowned for exploring. And in 1909 when Serge Diaghilev first founded the company, such an approach was revolutionary. Now, the Ballets Russes is regarded as the 20th century’s most innovative dance company, owing to its unique set designs, dance and music choreography, and costumes. Noted artists such as Natalia Goncharova, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Giorgio de Chirico designed garments for the Ballets’ dancers, with Mademoiselle Coco herself creating two knitted bathing suits for the 1924 production, The Blue Train. Even then, the overlap between Russian art culture and fashion was evident. Presently fashion newcomers Christian Siriano and Eudon Choi have revisited traditional Slavic costume in their AW13 lines, with several high street labels also adopting the trend. The rise of street style photography has encouraged a small group of Russian editors and oligarchettes to be dubbed the “Russian fashpack.” Their recently acquired fame has helped to remind Western society of the Eastern European nation’s creative value. That, in combination with the ever-resurfacing Russian theme within prominent design labels’ collections, will continue to inspire the presence of Eastern European culture within everyday fashion.
Chanel Paris-Moscou Collection, 2009
John Galliano, fall 2009
1 M adeleine Ross-M asson BA (Hons) Costume for Perfor m ance Photogr aph: Orsolya Luca 2 Contour by Basm a M asri BA (Hons) Fashion Contour Photogr aph: James Rees
Dancers in Chanel for Le Tr ain Bleu, 1924
RED FOR A DIVA
Red: Diva drama from centre stage Stephanie King
Red is rarely an accident. When a women wears red her intention is almost always to draw attention. The hue’s shocking tone immediately captures the eye, and it is this exact reason why the colour red has become a significant part of fashion history. Worn by opera singers for centuries, donned by Hollywood starlets from the 1920s, and sported by today’s celebrities on endless red carpets; the performing arts and red go hand in hand given rouge’s ability to make any garment (and its wearer) standout. Three famed examples include Mary Callas’ crimson velvet gown in Puccini’s Tosca (1964), Julia Roberts in her Pretty Woman (1990) scarlet chiffon dress, or Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga’s tomato-tone bow neck gown at the 2007 Academy Awards. Each of these ensembles was perfect for making a grand entrance, not to mention keeping all eyes on them. Aside from its initial shock value, red also has a lasting impact. People no matter their age will remember the iconic slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and recall they were not silver or gold or blue; they were red. It is the same with illustrated bombshell Jessica Rabbit’s costume in the 1988
film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, or real-life sex symbol Marilyn Monroe in her sequinned Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) gown: we immediately know their outfits because of their bold colour. Equally it is hard to forget other historic uniforms such as Little Red Riding Hood and Santa Claus. Two fashion designers that have made their own shades of rouge synonymous with their name are Valentino Garavani and Christian Louboutin. The latter French shoe designer made his coveted footwear instantly identifiable by their red soles, where Italian design veteran Valentino is renowned for his own colour creation of “Valentino red”, an intense scarlet with a hint of crimson. What is it about the colour red that makes it such a powerful hue? Fundamentally, red represents the spectrum of human feeling — from passion and love to anger and mortality. It evokes such strong emotional responses, and is consequently associated with sexuality, power, happiness and danger. Over time, red has become more than a primary colour; it’s now an emblem. For whatever reason red may be worn, one thing is always guaranteed: it will always draw stares.
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953)
little red riding hood
1 Womenswear by Kenji Lau BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: Catalin Plesa 2 Womenswear by Kenji Lau BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: Catalin PlesA 2
EXIT DRAMA: from the bustle of Worth through to Schiaparelli to Zac Posen the exit can be as important as the entrance Janine Bartels
As air-kisses cease, voices lower, and cameras are armed at the ready – the fashion show is about to begin. Although the audience anticipates the first model to step onto the runway, it will be the final model that leaves the lasting impression. The first designer to employ a live model to showcase his latest creations was no other than Charles Fredrick Worth. In 1848, the couturier redesigned uniforms for Maison Gagelin and paid one of the female shop assistants, Marie Vernet, to model for him. He later married Vernet and opened the House of Worth in 1858, attracting the attention of empresses and all the blue bloods of the time. Originally, live models were an important tactic to demonstrate how the garment is worn. However, since the early days of Worth a fashion show has evolved into a fully fledged form of entertainment. Well ahead of her time, Elsa Schiaparelli was turning fashion shows into a performance, hiring acrobats for her 1938 collection Circus. There is a considerable amount of behind-the-scenes production that happens during a fashion show. Designers choreograph their runways, carefully selecting the models,
the music, and the order in which garments appear down the runway. The exit is also as important for each individual model, as she turns to walk back down the runway, focus is drawn to the back of the garment. The rear view is not to be underestimated; it has the ability to hold gazes, and as the model poses before exiting it will be the last chance for a photo opportunity.
1 Womenswear by Shabnam Eslambolchi BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: Orsolya Luca 2 Womenswear by Kimberly Tham BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: Orsolya Luca
For the grand finale, all the models will come out consecutively, showcasing the collection as a whole and triggering the memory of the audience, reminding them of first garment that stepped out onto the stage a mere 15 minutes prior. However, the models are not the last to leave the runway, the designer is. As the creative mastermind behind the collection bids “au revoir” to the elite crowd he/she usually exits with a customary wave or a bow. As shows have become more innovative through location, staging, and elaborate runways that models can weave through, the fashion show has become a performance and every designer is vying to stand out. What’s the secret? It’s all in the exit.
Headpieces: from tiara to turban, even on formal occasions headwear is often the finishing touch Rebekah Cheng
Headwear began for practical reasons - protection against the climate and on occasion, people - but for the most part, was affiliated with womanly decorum. Whilst the social necessity of wearing a headpiece has since declined, it is interesting to note how this accessory has evolved from status symbol to empowerment piece and now, works of art. Take for example, the tiara - worn as a type of an adornment among the Royal and noble ranks - which exemplifies social status and wealth, especially when lavished with pearl drops, emeralds and diamonds. Nevertheless, in popular culture today the tiara has slightly different connotations. For instance, the warrior princess of the Amazons (or Wonder Woman), uses her tiara as a weapon and telepathic shield - a symbol of power, if you like. This association was also seen during the liberation of the Roaring Twenties. The emergence of Flappers - women
The latter, famous for purchasing Alexander McQueen’s entire graduate collection, designed headpieces and fascinators that defied convention. A piece which often gets singled out is her Ship Hat, structured entirely from feathers. Blow’s designs pushed boundaries and in many ways, was an expression of her eccentricities and following her death, were admired as pieces of art.
who challenged their own role in society - saw skirts being shortened, slits cut higher and crucially, the popularity of the cloche: a bellshaped, fitted hat that was adopted even by high fashion house Lanvin. The latter is important because it could only be worn with short hair something which society once frowned upon. In a way, the cloche not only set a new trend but inadvertently challenged social norms, empowering women to be who they wanted to be.
1 Headwear by Willow Bunton BA (Hons) M ake-up and Prosthetics for Perfor m ance Photogr aph: Catalin Plesa 2 Headwear by Alex andr a Druzhinin MA Fashion Artefact Photogr aph: James Rees
The use of headwear as a statement art piece is now many an artist’s raison d’d’être (on the red carpet at least). True of Lady Gaga especially, when she wore an outfit made entirely of meat - complete with matching raw beef hat - to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Either way, whether as a piece of steak or surrounded by a plume of feathers, headwear - more often than not - tends to steal the show.
While the effect of the 1920s wore off, the fashion for adorning one’s coiffure with something special never faltered. The late Princess of Wales herself didn’t shy away from adding her own spin to the trend - from her turbaninspired royal blue topper she wore while on tour in Dubai to a white, sailor-type hat she donned at the La Spezia navel base in Italy - Diana certainly reinvigorated the hat scene, perhaps setting the stage in Britain for designer, Isabella Blow.
“Fashion is a vampiric thing, it’s the hoover on your br ain. That’s why I wear the hats, to keep everyone away from me.” - Isabella Blow
queen elizabeth ii (1953)
Lynda carter as wonderwom an (1975)
Cloche hat as worn by silent film star Vilm a Bánky, 1927
Princess of wales (1989)
THE ROMANCE OF THE CRINOLINE
Crinolines and Ballgowns from Charles Frederick Worth the founding father of couture through to the New Look of Dior and the enormous skirts of Marchesa this tiny bodice and huge skirt of every little girls dreams says a fashion constant. Rebekah Cheng
The latter included the introduction of the crinoline - designed to shape and support one’s skirt - worn beneath day dresses and evening ballgowns. The British social season naturally involved many of these gowns - particularly at Débutante cotillions - and was inevitably a required state of dress when being presented to the King and Queen. One can only imagine the difficulties these ladies faced when exiting their carriages! The 20’s saw the death of such formalities including the corset. For this, credit goes to Coco Chanel who in her own words, “let go of the waistline”. Two decades later, this was perhaps forgotten. In the Spring of 1947, Christian Dior presented his first collection in Paris to much acclaim and wide-eyed wonder. Cinched waists and bust-enhancing cuts revolutionised the silhouettes of women across the world. This ‘New Look’ - a term credited to then editorin-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow - paved a way for a new kind of ‘fashionable dress’: “I wanted my dresses to be “constructed”, moulded on the curves of the female body whose contours
they would stylise. I accentuated the waist, the volume of the hips and emphasised the bust. In order to give my models more hold, I had nearly all fabrics lined with percale or taffeta, renewing a tradition that had long been abandoned.” - Christian Dior Indeed, the ballgown not only reinvigorated womanly sensuality in dress but also helped define the careers of many of its makers. Take for example, Hubert de Givenchy, who designed Audrey Hepburn’s gown in the classic movie, Sabrina (1954). He went on to design the rest of her wardrobe (in all her movies), including that famous wedding gown in Funny Face (1957).
AUDREY HEPBURN IN GIVENCHY DRESS SABRINA, 1954
While the art of dress continues to evolve in this age of fashion transience, there has been a constant in the decadence and creation of ballgowns - from the ever-ethereal Marchesa with endless tulle and delicate beadwork to the Lebanese genius that is Reem Acra, whose designs are worn by many a Hollywood leading lady on red carpets across the globe. The ball gown is here to stay and we completely approve.
MASIE NOBLE BA (HONS) FASHION ILLUSTRATION
“ The ballgown. A vestige, true, of aristocr atic past, but also for a long time the source of much experimentation in fashion.”
1 Costume by Ruby Vestry BA (Hons) Costume for Perfor m ance 2014 Photogr aph: Orsolya Luca 2 Womenswear by Cassey Gan BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees
- Daphne Guinness 2
GRANDEUR AT COURT
Fashion at Court in Great Britain Rebekah Cheng
From side-hooped dresses to crinolines and ostrich feathers, court fashion was the most lavish form of dress in late 18th- and 19th century Great Britain. Attendees of official state affairs wore Court Dress, with the exception of those entitled to Court Uniform (e.g. Members of the Royal Household, the Civil Service, the Privy Council etc.) The former determined one’s social status and was a reflection of political importance, usually worn by those in the royal circle and aristocratic high society. Indeed, this was strictly adhered to following the publication of “Dress Worn at Court” by Lord Chamberlain in 1882. Gentlemen wore black
velvet suits with white bow ties, paired with fine silk stockings and steel-cut buckled boots. Court Dress for women always involved a long decorated train, no less than three yards in length from the shoulders. Ladies adorned their hair with feather plumes, wore white veils or lace lappets and accessorised with motherof-pearl fans. In particular, at Levées – hosted by the Princes of Wales for the presentation of gentlemen – and Court Presentations (the equivalent for women) to the Queen, these dress codes were religiously followed; the promise of a kiss on the cheek from Her Majesty was too prized a reward not to. The social prestige gained as
a result of the procession was highly sought after, well worth the hours of waiting to be called forward to the Throne Room. Towards the end of the 19th century, Court Dress became less opulent given a diminishing need to wear it. The effects of the First and Second World War further transformed the rigid customs that for so long controlled the British Court and its practices. The continued informality of the 21st century has seen an even greater erosion of rigid fashion protocol at Court, although on occasion tradition still takes precedence in the age of fashion transience.
1 Womenswear by Tar ang Bharti BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees 2 Isabella Cotier - Costumedress BA (Hons) Fashion Illustr ation 3 Womenswear by M aewa Uhlm ann BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees
STATEMENT FASHION/DRESSING Stephanie King
The act, or art, of dressing has been long accepted as a form of self expression, a visual showcase of individual identity. From ’80s power dressing, to flirty 20s flapper styles and sequin-abundant pieces worn at Studio 54 during the ’70s, clothes have always served as the perfect medium for illustrating personal style. Making a statement is never easier than through one’s fashion choices, which allow wearers to communicate their beliefs and attitudes as eccentrically or as conservatively as they desire. Sociologist Georg Simmel first noted in his 1904 American Journal of Sociology article, “Fashion” that clothing is used as a way of demonstrating wealth and demarcating oneself — although not too drastically — from others. And this is no more apparent than in the everdistinctive dress styles of upper social classes. Throughout the decades individuals with significant financial means have, and will continue to, heavily influence the adoption of certain fashion trends in everyday life. Featuring prominently in recent years has been an overtly bold design aesthetic from the world’s best fashion labels, both NEWGEN and old.
The Spring/Summer and Autumn/ Winter collections of Jil Sander, Prada, Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto, for example, have consisted of loud patterns in shocking hues and striking prints, where the advent of e-commerce websites and street style photography has quickly encouraged an ostentatious way of dressing to become a worldwide phenomenon. So much so, that it prompted OBEawarded fashion journalist Suzy Menkes to pen a scathing article in T Magazine on the ‘peacocking’ she observed at Fashion Weeks, titled “The Circus of Fashion”. To combat the extravagant mode of dress dominating today’s runways and rues, the latest trend dubbed ‘normcore’ has arisen, inspiring the masses to let go of their need to look distinctive. While renowned, flamboyant Italian editors Anna Dello Russo and the late Anna Piaggi may not embrace its trademark ‘stylised blandness,’ normcore has offered society another interesting sartorial perspective. Yet what is perhaps the most encouraging, is the growing acceptance of different senses of style, which is the biggest fashion statement of all.
M ary K atr antzou L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival 2013
Menswear by Alexis Housden BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Menswear Photogr aph: James Rees 2 ‘Cloud dress’ Isabella Cotier BA (Hons) Fashion Illustr ation 3 Womenswear by Daniel Pascal Tanner BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees
THE LURE OF THE EXOTIC
The Lure of the Exotic Stephanie King
Decorative trinkets from far off destinations, curious and beautiful creatures from remote locations: the treasures of faraway lands are some of the most enticing in existence. For centuries these forms of exotic inspiration have captured the imagination of fashion’s biggest names. The late Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Lacroix are two influential designers who frequently incorporated uncommon textiles and materials into their designs. Unusual animal skins or at the very least, their print patterns, were prominent features of Lacroix and Schiaparelli’s pieces, where Schiaparelli especially was famed for her collection of travel souvenirs. Cultures of the world, namely architecture and traditional dress of distant cities/communities, significantly influenced their work and that of future design houses.
Interestingly, styles that were considered “exotic” centuries ago still remain fashionable. Most notably is “Queen of the Nile” Cleopatra, who introduced Roman-style gowns and coin jewellery into dress worn in Egypt — an exotic location in its own right. Nowadays however, it is Cleopatra’s trademark kohl-lined cat eyes and heavily cuffed forearms that are often adopted; but these two modes of dress also had “exotic” origins.
Whether it is alligator, eel, python, crocodile, lizard or ostrich, today’s fashion labels also show a strong fascination with the exotic. Be it in coat, bag or shoe form, the luxury Italian labels Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Fendi are particularly renowned for their work with these expensive hides, with British luxury label Jimmy Choo equally celebrated for its exotic offerings.
If nothing else, designs constructed from or featuring exotic elements are guaranteed to garner attention. It’s highly likely that their allure will prove irresistible.
Christian Lacroix, 2008
Ostrich leather Kelly bag by Her mès
Clearly there is something universal and enduring about the exotic. Perhaps underlying its enchanting nature is its implicit rarity. Fashion made from unusual materials – or at least, inspired by unusual materials – makes the piece even more appealing because that uncommonness, that difficulty to acquire its components, simply amplifies the piece’s desirability.
1 Linda Awuku BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles Photogr aph: James Rees 2 Faye van Andel BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear photogr aphy: JAMES REES 3 Womenswear by Luke Bullen BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear PHOTOGRAPHY: Catalin Plesa 4 Womenswear by Kenji Lau BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear PHOTOGRAPHY: Catalin Plesa
ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN ‘CLEOPATRA’, 1963
WHITE THROUGHOUT LIFE
White: From Cradle to Grave Stephanie King
From the vanilla hued togas of the court of the Roman Empire, to the snow-tone outfits worn by the Queen of England to open a new session of Parliament, world history is saturated with white. While this neutral shade’s validity as an official colour is frequently questioned, white is, surprisingly, a combination of all of the colours; it is a product of all of the different light wavelengths in the visible spectrum. White’s inherent purity makes it the symbol of innocence, where young debutantes exclusively wear white dresses to commemorate their entrée into high society. This is, of course, a modern day evolution of the powdered wigs and milky-white gowns worn by nobility during the 18th century Rococo period. Today, white is relied upon habitually for its versatility, with classic wardrobe staples such as the white button-down shirt or t-shirt regarded as “essential basics.” The
where in ancient Egypt white linen was used for the Egyptians’ burial process of mummification. In Christianity however, white is considered a symbol of surrender and sacrifice, as it is believed that Christ sacrificed himself for the sins of mankind. According to the Bible, Christ was resurrected three days following his crucifixion, which is why white has also been connected to the idea of “new beginnings.” As a result white is often worn during Christenings and religious ceremonies, where in the 19th century Queen Victoria popularised wedding dresses of a pearl-esque hue.
cloud-like tone possesses so many connotations that it is universally adaptable, representing concepts from perfection, “the good” and futurism, to honesty, minimalism and virginity. In film history, however, some of the silver screen’s iconic white costumes have been far from innocent, with Marilyn Monroe’s alluring Seven Year Itch (1955) halter dress perhaps the most memorable of all. A few years later in 1962, a white bikini-clad Ursula Andress captured audiences’ attention in the James Bond film, Dr No. But it was really Sharon Stone’s leg crossing scene in Basic Instinct (1992) that shocked movie goers, when she revealed it was only the polo neck slip dress that she was wearing. Undoubtedly the updated application of white could not be further from its traditional use.
During the same era white was equally fashionable overseas, but only for a certain period of the year: ever heard the phrase, “No wearing white after Labor Day?” From the late 1800s summer in America was the only acceptable time to don any shade of blanc. Why? The aristocrats believed it should remain exclusive to resort wear.
In Eastern cultures, the ghostly tone is associated with death and mourning,
Today such a convention isn’t strictly adhered to, and indeed, neither is the UK tennis tournament Wimbledon’s requirement for its players to solely wear white sportswear. However some current fashion designers have made the colour an unofficial “uniform” within their lines. Calvin Klein and Narciso Rodriguez, especially, use the minimalist tone as a signature, and their trademark all-white looks were recently joined by others: 2014’s runways were frosted with head-to-toe white ensembles from Alexander Wang, Chloé, Victoria Beckham, Christian Dior and Peter Som. After all of its previous uses, these luxury labels still consider white – a colour that some perceive as boring – as anything but bland. After all, there’s got to be a reason why one of fashion’s most famous designers, Coco Chanel, wore white year-round.
1 Menswear by Alexis Housden BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Menswear Photogr aph: James Rees 2 Womenswear by Robin Siggesson BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear Photogr aph: James Rees
LONDON . NEW YORK . DUBAI . SHANGHAI . FLORENCE