Fashion designers are architects of fabric. Designing fashion involves envisioning a concept which may be based on a theme or on the history of similar articles of clothing, sketching it out, creating a pattern by hand or through computer graphics, choosing fabrics based on their texture, drape and aesthetics of their print or design, and creating a wearable object out of these.
The first fashion designer was Charles Frederick Worth, a mid-nineteenth century draper, who included his name on the clothes that he fashioned. He set up his fashion house (maison couture) in Paris. Often designs were initially presented as drawings to clients, and only "created" if the client wanted it. Clothing was therefore one of a kind, and quite expensive. These clothes were and are still called, haute couture.
Photography revolutionized fashion, and by the early 20th century, fashion photographs were being incorporated into magazines. During World War II, Paris ceased to be the center of the fashion world. Because of necessity, clothing became mass marketed using new techniques and materials, including synthetics. After the war, Parisian high fashion, or haute couture was resurrected, but factory produced styles were firmly established. The latter fell into two categories, ready wear, which while designer created were factory made and therefore less expensive. Care went into making ready wear garments, including expensive fabrics and more intricate needlework. Ready wear was more expensive and prestigious than the second type of mass produced clothes, mass market wear. Mass market wear is found today in department stores everywhere. Ready wear is found in upscale department stores such as Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Bergdorf Goodman.
The Great Designers.
Many of the great designers have been women. These individuals have been innovators in the use of textiles, as well as design. Many were college educated and had genuine business savvy, sometimes commanding multimillion dollar clothing empires.
CoCo Channel popularized the
bob hairstyle, the little black
dress, and jerseyknit for
Jeanne Lavin's trademarks were
floral colored garments, intricate
trimmings, beautiful embroideries
and beaded decorations in clear,
light, floral colors.
Elisa Schiaparelli was the most
important designer of the 1930s.
She was heavily influenced by
the Surrealist movement.
Madeleine Voinnet created
Grecian style clothing and
was well known for works
employing a bias cut. She's
been called the architect of
Vera Maxwell was the first woman
sportswear designer. She also
pioneered working with UltraSuede.
Bonnie Cashin was the most
important casual wear designer of
the mid-20th century. She mixed
fabrics and materials creating a
collage of textures, and reintro-
duced tweed into the fashion vo-
cabularly. She also used hardware,
such as brass toggles on her
Claire McCardell created the
"American Look". She invented
the "tent dress" and streamlined
swimwear. She introduced denim
into the fashion vocabulary and
the ballet slipper in place of the
pump. She was the first designer
to license her name.
Ann Klein created chic sportswear
that was comortable. She popul-
rized the blazer and trousers.
Edith Head was an American
costume designer in Hollywood
whose fashion ideas influenced
the fashion world. An author,
she frequented a number of
television talk shows in the
1950's and 60's, increasing
her exposure. Her fashions
worn by film stars, epitomized
Mary Quant is best known for
inventing the mini-skirt. Her
clothing styles epitomized the
1960's youth movement, and
she incorporated pop art motifs
into her garments. She also
created the colored, patterned
tights, which are still popular.
Caroline Herrera is a fashion
designer and entrepreneur.
Herrera's look is elegant and
timeless. She was Jackie O's
designer for over a decade.
Diane Von Furstenberg
created the jersey knit wrap-
dress, which was part of the
fashion uniform for the 1970's.
She has since expanded into
the fragrance and home
Sonia Rykiel began by creating
soft maternity sweaters. She
eventually designed all manner
of knitwears. Her Poor Boy
sweater was one of the most
popular sweater styles of the 70's
Donna Karan created the very
popular DNKY line which is found
in better department stores every-
where, including Macy's.
Miccuia Prada, a name that is
glamour and fashion, Miccuia is the
granddaughter of the founder of
the Prada house. She has re-
defined haute couture in lines of
separates. Her fashion advertise-
ments are trademarks on their own.
Betsy Johnson is the mother of
American alternative high fashion
Her clothing is whimsical but
edgy. She is a favorite of
musicians and rock stars.
Vivenne Westwood is the grand
dame of punk fashion and has
been honored by the Queen of
England for her work in fashion.
She uses traditional elements, in-
cluding tartans, in startling ways.
Rockstars, including the Sex Pistols
wore her clothes. Her styles are
radical and provocative.
Can you coordinate a wardrobe? Try this realistic game and find out by clicking HERE.
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