A Fashionable History

A Fashionable History
When did fashion as we know it begin?

Primeval Fashion

Scientists tell us that humans first wore clothes approximately 70,000 years ago, likely made of leather and fur.

The technique of weaving is thought to have been developed around 8000 BC, and until the twelfth century AD clothing remained very plain. Ancient Egyptians draped linen around themselves, while Ancient Romans wore togas of white wool that consisted of as much as nine yards of fabric.

Medieval Fashion

During the 1100s, clothing started to move away from the plain drapes of fabric that had covered people for so many years. Women began adorning their clothing with lace or jewelry accents. In the 1200s, makeup became more common, as did form-fitting clothing. The gradual evolution that had been occurring for a few hundred years subsided in the 1400s when fashion trends started coming and going in a cyclical pattern that still exists today. Clothing continued to become more intricate and style more important to society.

The first recognized fashion designer was really a dressmaker -- Rose Bertin of France, who, in the late 1700s, supplied Marie Antoinette with her court fashions.

Haute Couture

The idea of fashion as we understand it today began with the haute couture maison of Charles Frederick Worth in Paris in the late nineteenth century. Unlike dressmakers of the past, Worth instructed his clientele what they should wear. It was also at this time that artists began to sketch original designs for the client, who could then select a design from those created by the artist.

Sketching designs saved money for the fashion houses, since they no longer had to waste a garment or use a model for an idea that wouldn't sell. It also attracted the work of famous illustrators who created fashion plates in well-known fashion magazines .

Paris was the home of haute couture for the first half of the twentieth century, influencing and influenced by art movements from ballet to Art Deco. During and after World War II, many fashion houses were forced to shut down or move to the United States, particularly to New York City.

Throughout the 1950s, Paris was still considered the genesis of haute couture, but in the 1960s, London and Italy became fashion centers for men, while Hollywood's glam looks joined Parisian haute couture for women's fashion. The U.S. and English influence on fashion rose to prominence throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, from hippie dresses to the punk look.

International trends abounded in the 1980s, sportswear became chic, and by the early years of the 21st century, black-and-white minimalism was at first ascendant, replaced by a more feminine and colorful look.

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