University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion History"

Celebrating Women’s History Month – Art, Science & Fashion

- - Fashion History

 

Who’s She? a new guessing game created by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska (Photo credit: Playeress)

In honor of Woman’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, University of Fashion would like to celebrate by focusing on female accomplishments in the areas of art, science and fashion. We are aware that there are MANY more influential women that could and should be listed here, but in the interest of space, we have only listed some and vow to cover this topic again in future blogposts. Let’s face it girls…we have lots to brag about!

Not since the suffrage movement, the 19th amendment (granting women the right to vote in 1920), the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 60s, and the Women’s Rights Movement of 2016, have women become as mobilized as they are now. In fact, if you haven’t already signed up to become a founding member of Supermajority (it’s free) then, what are you waiting for? Spoiler alert, women represent a majority in the U.S. and we CAN be the most powerful force in America if we work together.

Did you know that women now have their own board game! Who’s She? is a new guessing game created by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska for Playeress, celebrating the achievements of famous women around the world. The laser-cut wooden board flips up to reveal the faces of 28 painters, athletes, scientists, and astronauts in a similar style to that of the classic game, Guess Who? from the late 1970s. However, instead of posing superficial questions like, “does your character have glasses?” this game asks players to inquire about achievements and contributions like, “did she win a Nobel Prize?”

Also, did you know that as of Mother’s Day weekend in 1996, a group of women dedicated themselves to moving Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony out of the U.S. Capitol’s basement, known as the Crypt, to its rightful place in the Capitol Rotunda and thus created the National Women’s History Museum? Watch for the announcement of it’s permanent home at the Smithsonian Institution with a location on the National Mall. 

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and Women in the World are only the beginning of female empowerment. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing their visibility, while calling out inequality, is key to today’s women’s movement. As women continue to strive for equality in the boardroom, in pay, sports, politics, the sciences, the arts, and in every aspect of life, we are definitely in the age of the “XX Chromosome.”

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated for well over a century. The first IWD gathering in 1911 was supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific and is celebrated on March 8th each year.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH 

Women’s History Month began in 1978 as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week.” The organizers selected the week of March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day and the movement spread across the the U.S. as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

On February 28, 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. He wrote:

“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often, the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of men whose names we know so well.” 

In 1987 Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

WOMEN in the ARTS

According to My Modern Met, the 10 most famous female painters (dating from the Italian Renaissance), include Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Rosa Bonheur,Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Tamara de Lempicka and Frida Kahlo. 

Organizations like Advancing Women Artists work to ensure that the female talent of the past doesn’t get left out of the history books.

Frida Kahlo (Photo credit: Frida Kahlo Instagram)

 

WOMEN in the SCIENCES

As for women in the sciences, notables include: Marie Curie, Tiera Guinn, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jane Goodall, Mae C. Jemison, Jennifer Doudna, Rachel Carson, Marie Goeppert Mayer, Sara Seager, Katherine Freese, Jane Cooke Wright, Vera Rubin, Sau Lan Wu, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Gertrude Elion. Another role model is the first tech visionary, Ada Lovelace, who is celebrated on the second Tuesday in October. Known for her achievements in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, she is one of the early innovators of the computer.

Ada Lovelace –  first tech visionary  (Photo credit: the Mirror)

 

WOMEN in FASHION

Beginning with France’s earliest known designer, Rose Bertin (creator of Marie Antoinette Queen of France coronation dress) and the steady succession of female designers to follow, fashion has always been an industry where female talent could flourish. Let’s look at some great women who broke the glass ceiling:

EDITH L. ROSENBAUM

Edith L. Rosenbaum – Journalist and Titanic Survivor. (Photo credit: Encyclopedia Titanic)

Edith L. Rosenbaum was a Woman’s Wear Daily journalist from the early 1900’s. She was not only a stylist and buyer but a survivor of the Titanic. A few days after being rescued, she filed a story about people from the fashion industry who were also on board the ship. She wrote of Isidor & Ida Straus (of Macys and Abraham & Straus Department Stores), both of whom courageously died, and Ida’s loyalty to her husband by choosing not to be rescued if her husband could not join her. Rosenbaum also wrote about designer Lady Duff Gordon, whose career was marred by the tragic mistake she made discouraging crew members from turning back their half-full lifeboats to rescue more people, fearing the boat would become overcrowded. Rosenblum was a pioneer who opened the door for future female journalists to cover ground-breaking stories around the world, thus inspiring the careers of Diana Vreeland, Anna Wintour and Robin Givhan.

                      

Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour at Richard Quinn’s runway show at London Fashion Week in 2018. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Diana Vreeland Memos The Vogue Years. (Photo credit: New York Post)

 

MADELEINE LOUIS CHÉRUIT

Madeleine Louise Chéruit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Madeleine Louise Chéruit may not be a household name like Coco Chanel, but she is definitely an inspiration for female fashion designers in the ‘know.’ Chéruit was one of the first women to control a major French fashion house at the turn of the century. In the late 1800s Chéruit worked as a dressmaker at Raudnitz & Cie House of Couture. Her work was so exceptional, that in 1905 she took over the salon and its more than 100 employees, renaming it Chéruit.

Chéruit was known to champion other talented couturiers and helped launch the career of French designer Paul Poiret. During WWI, she was one of the few couture houses that remained open. Sadly the house closed its doors in 1935, but Chéruit’s influence is still felt when Elsa Schiaparelli famously took over Chéruit’s 98-room studio and salon, tying the two designers together in the fashion history.

COCO CHANEL

A 1960 photo of Coco Chanel. (Photo credit: Britannica)

Coco Chanel, without a doubt, is one of the most important designers in fashion. She single-handedly created the template for modernity that still exists today. Coco is credited in the post-World War I era, with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and for popularizing sporty, “casual chic” as the feminine standard of style. Coco’s tweed suits, little black dress, and piles of fake pearl jewelry are still a hallmark of her extraordinary career. In 1918, Chanel purchased and opened a shop at 31 rue Cambon in one of the most fashionable districts of Paris. Chanel herself designed her famed interlocked “CC”  monogram, which has been in use since the 1920s and still today is the signature clasp on iconic Chanel handbags.  Coco Chanel is the only fashion designer listed in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.

ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

Elsa Schiaparelli fitting one of her designs on a model. (Photo credit: The Wall Street Journal)

Italian socialite Elsa Schiaparelli always had a flare for fashion. After working at various fashion jobs, “Schiap” as she was known, launched her namesake collection in 1927. Her business grew quickly with high profile customers flocking to her salon, including Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Gloria Guinness and the Duchess of Windsor.

Schiaparelli’s whimsical, “tongue-in cheek” approach to fashion was reflected in her theme-based collections beginning in 1935 with Stop, Look and Listen, the Music Collection (1937), the Circus Collection, the Pagan Collection, the Zodiac Collection (1938), the Commedia dell’Arte Collection (1939) and her Cash and Carry Collection (1940). She was greatly influenced by surrealism artists and was a pioneer of experimental, avant-garde fashion, which would later inspire contemporary designers, Franco Moschino and Jeremy Scott.

MADELEINE VIONNET

Madeleine Vionnet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

French designer Madeleine Vionnet is a designer’s designer and her influence is still with us today, as designers continue taking inspiration from her mastery. Vionnet’s biggest contributions to fashion are her famous “bias cut,” “twists,” cowl necklines, zig-zag cut waist seams, chiffon handkerchief dresses and Asian-inspired body wrapping methods. Like Coco Chanel, Vionnet is credited with the move from stiff, corseted, formalized looks, in favor of sleeker, softer silhouettes. Isadora Duncan, one of the most admired modern dancers of her time, became Vionnet’s muse, hence the focus on clothes that flattered the natural curves of a woman’s body.

MADAME GRÈS

Madame Grès, couture at work. (Photo credit: Vogue.it)

While Madame Grès was one of the most influential fashion couturiers of her time, she was also one of the most elusive. Grès was a true master technician. Known for her draping masterpieces that included intricate tucks, folds, and pleats, she was always tight-lipped about her approach. She fervently concealed from the public’s eye her prized techniques, therefore earning her the nickname, “The Sphinx of Fashion.”

JEANNE LANVIN

                    Lanvin logo depicting Jeanne Lanvin and daughter Marguerite (Photo credit: Lanvin)

Jeanne Lanvin was trained as a milliner and dressmaker. Her fashion career began when she began creating clothes for her daughter, Marguerite. She soon found herself in the childrenswear business. In 1909 Lanvin expanded her collection to include womenswear and would then go on to become of the most successful couture houses in the world. In 1927,  Lanvin launched her famous fragrance Arpège.

Lanvin’s clothes have always had a youthful and whimsical quality. Her signature dress, known as the “robe de style” is a silhouette that flatters all female figure types and is still popular today. In 1926, Lanvin expanded into menswear, making her the first haute couture house to design for all members of the family.

Although we have witnessed a series of artistic directors at Lanvin throughout the years, one thing has remained consistent –  the logo. Created by Jeanne Lanvin, the logo depicts a playful mother and her child, the beginning of the Lanvin story. Today, Lanvin is the oldest surviving fashion house in continuous existence.

CLAIRE McCARDELL

Claire McCardell sketching. (Photo credit: CR Fashion Book)

Claire McCardell is considered one of the pioneers of the “American look,” i.e., uncomplicated, comfortable clothing for the casual American lifestyle (the actual beginning of ‘lifestyle dressing’). Her design philosophy was in sharp contrast to her European counterparts of the 1940s whose clothes were fitted, fussy, decorated and tailored. During World War II, McCardell took advantage of fabric shortages by working cotton and twill into both her day and evening looks. American publicist Eleanor Lambert and Lord  & Taylor’s then president, Dorothy Shaver, were early pioneers of American fashion. They quickly placed McCardell’s designs front and center in marketing campaigns and thus helped launch McCardell’s career. Her 1942 popover dress (that could be worn as a beach cover-up or cocktail dress) was in high demand, and just like that, the chic American Look was born. McCardell is also know for her “five easy pieces” concept, which would become the foundation for today’s ‘mix and match’ sportswear separates category and later serve as inspiration for Donna Karan.

BONNIE CASHIN

Bonnie Cashin in 1961 wearing one of her designs. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Bonnie Cashin, along with Claire McCardell, was another champion of American fashion. Cashin designed casual looks for the modern, independent woman by creating pieces with a minimal use of seams and darts; she also introduced layered looks that suited her jet-set lifestyle.

Cashin started her career by designing clothing for chorus girls in Los Angeles and eventually made it to the silver screen by creating wardrobes for films like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Anna and The King of Siam. Cashin. She is also credited with creating flight attendant uniforms for American Airlines.

In 1962, Cashin was hired by Miles and Lillian Cahn for the launch of their accessories business, Coach. Her designs for Coach included the shopping bag tote, the bucket bag, the shoulder bag and the clutch-style purse with removable shoulder strap. In 1964, Cashin introduced a brass turn lock/toggle closure that was featured both on her bags and her clothing designs. This piece of hardware quickly became her signature and Coach still uses it today.

MARY QUANT

Mary Quant – style icon who changed the face of fashion in the Sixties. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Mary Quant is widely credited as one of the most instrumental designers of the 1960s London Mod and Youth Fashion movements. Her invention of miniskirts and hot pants helped catapult the growing trend in women’s fashion liberation.

Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s and 1960s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

Vivienne Westwood at her fall 2019 show surrounded by models. (Photo credit: L’Official USA)

In the early 70s, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood became the go-to designer for punk and new wave clothing through her affiliation with English impresario Malcolm McLaren and his King’s Road boutique, “SEX.” Although punk music actually began in the United States with bands like the Stooges and the Ramones, Westwood and McLaren made it famous globally. Rebellious teens craved Westwood’s clothes that featured tears, holes, safety pin embellishments, clan plaids and plenty of faux leather. To this day, Westwood is still creating fashion with a rebellious twist.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

 

Diane von Furstenberg in her Manhattan flagship store. (Photo credit: Vogue)

Diane von Fürstenberg, formerly Princess Diane of Fürstenberg, is a Belgian fashion designer and former wife of Prince Egon von Fürstenberg. The royal couple were separated in 1973 and divorced in 1983, however Diane continued to use his family name.

Most known for her wrap dress, which catapulted her to fame in the 70s, the designer took a brief hiatus from fashion but relaunched her namesake label in 1992. Today, her collection is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. Von Furstenberg was president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) from 2006 to Jan. 1, 2020. In 2014 she was listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, and in 2015 was included in the Time 100, as a fashion icon, by Time magazine.

REI KAWAKUBO

Rei Kawakubo at her 2017 Met Exhibit. (Photo credit: MTV)

Rei Kawakubo is a self-taught Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. She is the founder of her clothing company Comme des Garçons and the trend-setting retail concept Dover Street Market. Kawakubo founded Comme des Garçons in 1969 as an avant-garde brand, specializing in clothes best described as anti-fashion, austere and deconstructed. In the 1980s Kawakubo revolutionized Paris fashion by introducing a style of dress that merged Western and Japanese influences. Her clothes have always been both directional and powerful, challenging the concept of feminine beauty. Kawakubo is considered one of Japan’s most innovative fashion designers and remains one of the most unconventional designers of our time.

DONNA KARAN

Donna Karan in her studio. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Donna Karan launched her signature collection in May of 1985. Her genius concept began with a jersey bodysuit and several mix-and-match pieces that she would refer to as her “easy pieces” (reminiscent of Bonnie Cashin). Karan has always been a champion of woman’s empowerment. In fact, her 1992 advertising campaign was based on an aspirational female president of the United States. Karen’s signature look is centered around the career driven woman with a love of fashion, the arts and philosophy.

In 1989, Karan introduced her secondary line, DKNY, which she described to WWD as, “the embodiment of all that is New York – fast, loud, bright, funny, egotistical, demanding and generous.”  Donna received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014 and stepped down from her company in 2015. Today, her focus is on her Urban Zen line, which centers on wellness and artisanal goods. Karan refers to Urban Zen as a “philosophy of caring.”

MIUCCIA PRADA

A portrait of Miuccia Prada. (Photo credit: Vanity Fair)

Miuccia Prada is the youngest granddaughter of Italian heritage brand founder Mario Prada. In 1978 she took over the family-owned luxury goods company. In 1988, Miuccia introduced her first ready-to-wear line and has been captivating the fashion scene ever since.

At the helm now for the past 30 years, Miuccia continues to retain an aurora f mystery about her. Season after season one never knows what to expect from this creative genius. Her motifs have run the gamut from futuristic to granny chic and everything in between. She launched her secondary line Miu Miu (her nickname) in 1992. Although it started off as a less expensive womenswear collection inspired by her personal wardrobe, today it is just as expensive as the Prada label but with a younger aesthetic.

Miuccia Prada was honored by the CFDA with the International Award in 2004. In March 2013 she was named one of the fifty best dressed over-50s by Forbes. The magazine also listed her as the 75th most powerful woman in the world in 2014, when her estimated net worth was reported as $11.1 billion. This past February, during Milan Fashion Week, Prada announced that Belgian designer Raf Simons would become Prada’s co-creative director along with Miuccia. It will be interesting to see how these two creative intellectuals work together.

FEMALES SUPPORTING WOMAN’S HISTORY MONTH

Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, and Diane von Furstenberg were speakers at Tory Burch Summit. (Photo credit: Hollywood Reporter)

Many female fashion entrepreneurs are supporting Woman’s History Month in their own way. Tory Burch hosted a day of panels with the likes of activist Gloria Steinem, actress Ashley Judd and Time’s Up chief executive officer Tina Tchen. Burch will also donate 100 percent of net proceeds from her limited-edition Embrace Ambition bracelet and tote to support female empowerment and entrepreneurship.

The Tory Burch Embrace Ambition tote. (Photo credit: Tory Burch)

According to WWD, other brands are paying homage to influential women throughout history. Contemporary fashion label La Ligne launched pieces that included the monograms of such women as Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frida Kahlo and more.

La Ligne’s limited-edition sweatshirt. (Photo credit: La Ligne)

The Great. x Cotton Inc. are paying homage to Rosie the Riveter with a re-imagined denim jumpsuit that gives a nod to the iconic figure.

Carli Lloyd stars in The Great’s campaign. (Photo credit: The Great)

Jewelry designer Kendra Scott celebrated International Women’s Day by launching the Everlyne Friendship Bracelet as part of the brand’s Shop for Good give-back collection. The bracelets come in six colorways and include stones such as rose quartz, turquoise and mother of pearl. Throughout March, 20% of proceeds from the bracelet will be benefiting various women’s organizations.

A bracelet from Kendra Scott’s collection. (Photo credit: Kendra Scott)

Net-a-porter is celebrating International Women’s Day with its third partnership with Women for Women International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides practical and moral support to women survivors of war. The retailer asked 20 female designers to create exclusive T-shirts for the e-commerce site, with 100 percent of the proceeds going back to the charity. Stella McCartney, Gabriela Hearst, Alexa Chung, Isabel Marant, Carine Roitfeld, Jimmy Choo, Rotate, Rosie Assoulin, Charlotte Tilbury, Cecilie Bahnsen and Roxanne Assoulin are a few that participated.

Stella McCartney and Roxanne Assoulin’s T- shirts. (Photo credit: Net-a-porter)

Each design is the brand’s interpretation of female empowerment, including Stella McCartney using an illustration from her fall 2019 campaign where women come together in support and love for the earth and Jimmy Choo designing a T-shirt that reads “Choos women,” among others.

MZ Wallace teamed up with fashion label Lingua Franca to create a limited-edition tote that supports She Should Run, the nonprofit that provides resources to women aspiring to run for political office. The black-and-blue patterned tote is inscribed with the phrase, “I’ve got this.”

MZ Wallace and Lingua Franca collaboration. (Photo credit: MZ Wallace)

Author and activist Cleo Wade worked with Kate Spade for International Women’s Day. The brand created a capsule collection of totes, pouches and sweaters that feature motivational quotes written by Wade. The collection is part of the brand’s Purposeprogram, which is a partnership between Kate Spade and a production facility in Masoro, Rwanda that produces the leather goods. The facility is a certified B-corp manufacturer that employs more than 230 women from local communities and provides them with fair wages, health benefits and access to life skills education.

Cleo Wade working with a facility in Rwanda for her Kate Spade collaboration. (Photo credit: WWD)

Diane von Furstenberg planned a number of initiatives celebrating International Women’s Day. She hosted her third annual “InCharge Conversations” event at her Meatpacking store in Manhattan on March 6, a daylong series of panels that featured speakers including activist Gloria Steinem, actress Jameela Jamil, author Naomi Klein, author and lawyer Judy Smith, singer Jennifer Nettles, Facebook App head Fidji Simo, FEED projects CEO Lauren Bush Lauren and Girl Scouts of the USA chief executive officer Sylvia Acevedo, along with von Furstenberg herself.

DVF’s Girl Scouts-inspired scarf. (Photo credit: DVF)

The brand is also releasing a number of limited-edition pieces tied to the holiday, including an “In Charge”-inspired dress, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Vital Voices, a nonprofit that provides leadership training and mentorship to women. DVF also created a limited-edition scarf and wristlet inspired by the Girl Scouts of the USA, with a portion of proceeds going back to the organization.

Cynthia Rowley is donating 15 percent of sales from a selection of items — including its “I Love You” bucket hat and sweater and a cloud-print sweatshirt — to CARE.

For detailed bios of these and other female designers, get the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Also, check out these fun links in celebration of Woman’s History Month

https://mymodernmet.com/badass-women-history/

https://mymodernmet.com/cristi-smith-jones-black-history-month-photo-project/

https://mymodernmet.com/disney-princess-dream-careers-matt-burt/

https://mymodernmet.com/barbie-international-womens-day/

 

If you have a fav designer that inspires you, let us know?

Celebrating Black History & Fashion

(Photo credit; University of Fashion – Vlisco print – Perelman Museum, Philadelphia)

As Black History month draws to a close, we thought we would end the month by focusing on the historical contributions that African Americans have made to the world of fashion.

Before we do though, let’s take a look at the origin of Black History month. Started as Negro History Week in 1926, it was the brainchild of Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson (known as the “Father of Black History). In 1970, the Black United Students and Black Educators at Kent State University expanded the idea to include the entire month of February, coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas (leader of the New York & Massachusetts abolitionist movement) Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month in observance of African Americans; how they fought and continue to fight for freedom through hard work and activism.

 

African Prints

(Photo credit – University of Fashion- Vlisco African dashiki print Perelman Museum, Philadelphia)

When most of us think of African dress, the first thing that comes to mind is the dashiki, a loose-fitting garment made of a colorful printed cotton. But, do you know the origin of those prints? African Prints are wax prints that are industrialized versions of hand-drawn, hand-blocked and hand-dyed batik patterns that date to 8th century China and India. It wasn’t until later in the 13th century that islanders on Java refined the technique. The two factories that originally created these prints, ABC (an English wax company that moved to Ghana), and Vlisco, (located in the Netherlands), eventually found a market for them in West Africa around 1867. Since then, the prints caught on and have been made popular by African vendors who assign meaning and value to them. The powerful businesswomen who sell these prints in Africa are nicknamed “Mama Benz” after the fancy cars they buy with their earnings.

In the U.S., African prints are worn as a symbol of pride and they continue in popularity among designers on the global stage.

(Photo credit: University of Fashion – Vlisco print at Perelman Museum, Philadelphia)

In fact, the Vlisco bull’s-eye pattern below was used in Burberry’s spring/summer 2012 collection. And Studio 189, a Ghana/U.S.-based sustainable fashion line debuted their print collection at NYFW 2019.

(Photo credit: University of Fashion- Vlisco print designed by Piet Snel 1936)

Studio 189 New York Fashion Week 2019 (Photo credit: okayafrica.com)

 

African Head Wraps

Another major contribution of African dress is the head wrap, head tie or head scarf, worn either for day-to-day activities or for ceremonial/religious purposes. These headdresses go by various names depending upon which part of Africa. For example the gele id from West Africa while the doek and the duku  are worn in Southern Africa.

Check out this cool YouTube video to learn how to tie 10 different variations of head wraps.

Head Wrap (Photo credit: Oladimeji Odunsi)

 

African Dress Symbolism

African clothing patterns often depict religious beliefs and political commentary. The colors are also of particular significance, as they interpret the meaning of the pattern, with red symbolizing death, green meaning fertility, white expressing purity and blue signifying love. In West Africa it’s the agbada and in East Africa, the kanzu is the traditional dress worn by men.

Men’s agabada (Photo credit: Fikayo Aderoju)

For women, it’s the gomesi and the kanga (a colorful piece of printed cotton fabric with a border that is wrapped around the body).

Women’s gomesi (Photo credit: mywedding.co.ug)

 

African American Design Pioneers

Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes was the first African American fashion and costume designer as well as the first black designer to open her own shop in 1948, located on Broadway in New York City. Her designs were worn by such famous entertainers as Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald, Mae West, Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt and Sarah Vaughan, among others.

Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes (Photo credit: blackthen.com)

Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes was born on June 28, 1905 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She studied her grandmother’s work as a seamstress and also worked in her uncle’s tailoring shop. She began work as a stock girl at a high-end boutique around 1920 and worked her way up to become the boutique’s first black salesclerk and tailor. In 1948, at the age of forty-seven, Valdes opened her boutique in Manhattan on Broadway and West 158th Street with her sister, Mary Barbour, who worked as her assistant. She called her store, Chez Zelda. Valdes’s boutique soon attracted numerous celebrities and society women.  In 1949 Valdes was elected president of the New York Chapter of the National Association of Fashion and Accessory Designers (NAFAD), an organization of black designers that was founded by educator and political activist Mary McLeod Bethune. In the early 1950s, Life Magazine described Valdez as the “Black Marilyn Monroe.” In 1958 Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner hired Valdes to design the first Playboy Bunny costume, however the original design had taller ears and the ensemble lacked the trademark bow tie, collar and cuffs.

In 1976, designer Willi Smith launched his company, WilliWear. Smith is considered one of the most successful African American designers in the fashion industry, grossing over $25 million in sales by 1986. To commemorate his work, New York’s Cooper Hewitt Museum is planning a retrospective of his work from March through October 2020 entitled, Willi Smith: Street Couture.

Willi Smith and his model sister Toukie Smith (Photo credit: Cooper Hewitt)

The first black female designer to be recognized by the contemporary fashion industry was Tracy Reese, who founded her eponymous brand in 1998. Based in Detroit, Reese recently announced the launch of a new ethically-diverse label, Hope for Flowers, building on her already diverse and size-inclusive platform.

Tracy Reese (Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris)

Although we are celebrating African American designers here, we thought that this designer deserved mention. Meet Ozwald Boateng. Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Boateng was the first tailor to present a collection during Paris Fashion Week. In 1994, he opened his retail establishment just off Savile Row and was the youngest and first black tailor ever to do so. In 2014, Harvard University presented Boateng with the prestigious Veritas Award for his achievements and his commitment to global socio-economic development.

Ozwald Boateng (Photo credit: ozwaldboateng.com)

 

22 Black Fashion Designers You Should Be Following

(Click links to see their work)

Andrea Iyamah

Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa

Aurora James of Brother Vellies

Christopher John Rogers

Cushnie

Dapper Dan

Datari Austin London

Demestik by Reuben Reuel

Dumebi Iyamah of Andrea Iyamah

Fe Noel

Hideoki Bespoke

Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss

Kyemah Mcentyre

Laquan Smith

Miguel Wilson Collection

Rihanna’s Fenty Empire

Romeo Hunte

Sean John

Studio 189

Telfar Clemens of Telfar

Tia Adeola of Slashed by Tia

Virgil Abloh

 

On the Subject of Natural Hair

There has been a lot of press surrounding natural hair in the past year. Read this Forbes article about the natural hair-care movement and how Hollywood A-lister Gabrielle Union and a high school wrestler, Andrew Johnson, have been hair-shamed. Here’s another article entitled, Black Hair Defined that you’ll find interesting.

Did you know that Colorado, Washington and Minnesota—have either introduced or are advancing bills that ban hair discrimination in the workplace? It’s known as the Crown Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The act is already law in California, New York, New Jersey, Cincinnati and Montgomery County, Maryland.

You’ll also want to check out the award-winning Oscar animated film called Hair Love or get the book.

To learn more….

For more info on African American history, be sure to download and listen to The New York Times podcast entitled, The 1619 Project or read it here.

Share your thoughts with us about Black History month and how you celebrated

ARE FASHION SHOWS STILL RELEVANT?

Louis Vuitton’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

As our industry grapples with the impact of fast fashion on our planet and explores circular fashion concepts, such as ‘fundamental redesign’ (the shift from a ‘take-make-waste’ model towards a ‘reuse-based’ model), while other more responsible brands move to put the health of our planet over profits, we must ask ourselves… are fashion shows still relevant?

Add to these concerns the reality that designers are expected to execute four collections a year (spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, and pre-fall) as well as produce an expensive fashion show twice a year. As the industry once again ponders whether the expense and the number of shows are necessary, especially in a digital, on-demand, eco-conscious environment, the fact remains that consumers are not spending as much money on clothing as they are on technology and vacations. So, is this pace and expense sustainable?  Let’s take a look. But first, let’s explore the origins of the fashion show.

History of the Fashion Show

According to Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, written by our founder, Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle, the former Dean of the Fashion Institute Technology:

“The first fashion shows can be traced to Paris, beginning in the mid-1800s, with designers Charles Frederick Worth, Jeanne Paquin and Jean Patou. Worth was the first to design and display his own creations for women to choose from, via a “fashion show” on live models, four times a year.”House-of-Redfern---Galerie-de-vente---Paris-fashion-1910

 

Fashion models and society ladies at a designer salon circa 1910 (Photo credit: Glamourdaze.com)

The Paris salon show schedule would inevitably become the foundation for ‘fashion weeks’ in Milan, London, and New York. These cities became known as the “Big Four,” the largest and most important centers for fashion. In its early days, shows were solely for core customers, buyers and editors. The general public didn’t see the latest designer wares until they were available in stores some four to six months later. Even fashion magazines understood that the latest creations could not be unveiled in their editorial pages until they could actually be purchased by the consumer. A concept that has changed over time but may need to be revisited.

In 1943, New York fashion designers held ‘press weeks’ in fall and spring whereby editors and buyers would swarm to ritzy hotels to view the latest designer runway presentations.  For decades, this is how the system worked. Runway shows offered buyers and editors a chance to see designers’ collection, six months before they became available to the public. This helped buyers plan their “open-to-buy” and advertising budgets, and for editors to plan the trends that they would promote and feature in their editorial pages. Fun fact: American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert was the first to create fashion shows as charitable events with her March of Dimes shows (1948-1960), that not only raised money but helped promote American fashion design.

Christian Dior Show in 1948 (Photo Courtesy of AP Photo)

 

The Fashion Calendar

With so many fashion shows to coordinate among the “Big Four,”  a schedule was needed to keep shows from overlapping. Enter Ruth Finley and her fashion calendar, known in the industry as the “Pink Bible.”  In existence since the 1950s, the Fashion Calendar still is the” fashion planner for all fashion runway shows and other related fashion events.  In 2014, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) acquired the Fashion Calendar. Today it has six hundred and fifty subscribers and available in digital format only. No serious designer would dare schedule their show without first consulting with Fashion Calendar.

Fashion Weeks: NYFW – LFW – MFW  & PFW

New York Fashion Week (NYFW), as we know it today, began in 1993. Fern Mallis, then executive director of the CFDA, took hold of fashion’s schedule and tried to centralize the shows so that buyers and editors were not shuffling all over the city.  “Organized shows put American designers on the map and changed the fashion landscape forever,” Mallis told Racked in 2015. “Before that, there were 50 shows in 50 locations. Everyone did their own thing without understanding what a nightmare it was to get from one show to the other.”

      “To dispel the myth that U.S. fashion designers were influenced by their European counterparts, in 1998, American designers decided to move their fashion show schedule ahead of Paris, London and Milan and instead of being the last show, they became the first. This has remained the schedule into the twenty-first century.” ~ Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Bryant Park, located in mid-town Manhattan, was home to NYFW for 16 years. It was the first time designers were offered the option to present their fashion show without the responsibility of having to produce a fashion show from scratch –  the space, lighting, sound, and security were all handled by a production firm (IMG). That’s not to say it was cheap. According to Forbes.com,  “In 2007, a show at Bryant Park cost at least $50,000 for designers, according to one estimate.” Bryant Park  heightened awareness of NYFW and the fashion game began to change. It also provided an opportunity for designers to invite celebrities to sit front row, next to editors and later led to the rise of fashion bloggers and influencers.

By 2010, and with nearly 300 scheduled shows, the fashion crowd outgrew Bryant Park. NYFW was then moved to Lincoln Center for several seasons, however, as we all know, fashion is fickle. Today NYFW shows are primarily held in spaces along the West Side Highway and at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, where the spaces are larger and New York City traffic is less of an issue.

Bloggers & Influencers- From left: bloggers Bryanboy, Rumi Neely, Leandra Medine, Natalie Joos, Elin Kling &

Hanneli Mustaparta attend the Phillip Lim Spring 2014 fashion show in New York City. (Wendell Teodoro/WireImage, via Getty)

The Birth of the European Fashion Show Extravaganza

While U.S. designers mostly stayed faithful to the traditional runway show with models parading down a long narrow catwalk or in a passerelle or semi-circular format, their European counterparts favored the extravaganza. For example, Nino Cerutti’s used publicity stunts to self-promote, such as when he painted Lancia convertibles blue, then paraded them down the streets of Rome and onto the runway, where a starlet then broke a bottle of champagne on the hood. Designers Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler staged fashion show “extravaganzas” during the 1970s and 1980s that became media hypes, with fashion models often upstaging the clothes. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, designers John Galliano and Alexander McQueen continued to create some of the most spectacular shows, often with celebrity guests in attendance and sometimes even taking to the catwalk. Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Rick Owens, Fendi and Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy transformed the fashion show experience for the new millennium by: creating avant-garde conceptual performances, adding plus size models and introducing technology, such as the Fendi show in 2015 that used drones to film and live stream the show.

Broken Fashion Show System

According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, “By 2015, designers, buyers, fashion journalists and fashion organizations, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council, began to examine the “broken” fashion system as it related to the overcrowded fashion show schedule, the excessive number of shows and the relevance of showing fashion that cannot be immediately purchased; since the traditional fashion show system features merchandise six months in advance of the selling season and live-streamed fashion shows are available to consumers where immediacy is key for consumers in a digital age. Burberry was the first to make the decision to change the model by; showing only two collections a year, combining their menswear and womenswear in the same show, featuring clothes in season and not six months ahead of the season, and making the merchandise for sale immediately afterwards. In 2016, recording artist Kanye West and Adidas made fashion history when, timed to the launch of West’s new album The Life of Pablo, they held the first ever consumer ticket-holder fashion show at Madison Square Garden with tickets for their Yeezy-Adidas show priced at $275 each.”

Today, shows are not only photographed for social media, but they are also live-streamed so anyone sitting at home in front of their computer can tune in. Fashion shows have now evolved into marketing spectacles directed towards a mass audience. Hundreds of thousands attend fashion week, but thanks to today’s digital world, millions of people live-stream fashion shows online. So the purpose of fashion week seems clear; capture the attention of as many people as possible; visibility leads to sales, right? Only to a degree.  Unfortunately, the equation is not so straightforward and for years the question of “is fashion week dying” has been an ongoing conversation among fashion insiders.

“In a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to consumers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” designer Tom Ford told WWD in 2016. “We have been living with a fashion calendar and system that is from another era.”

While some may believe the fashion week runway format is archaic, this system still exists, but has arguably lost step in a world where everything is instantly visible across various social media platforms. Today, designers and brands can bypass store partners and sell straight to their customers through their own websites. It has become routine for consumers to stream new products that fast fashion popularized and these forces have transformed the fashion industry.

Enter Instagram

One of the biggest game-changers for the industry has been Instagram. The popular social media platform creates a constant connection between brands and customers and has helped reshape the way brands communicate to potential customers. Designers even create Instagammable ‘moments’ during their runway shows.

Chanel transformed the Grand Palais into a beach scene during Paris Fashion Week in October 2018 (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

And yet, fashion shows and their organizers aren’t disappearing time soon, in actuality, the reverse is happening, as more cities around the world are staging their own fashion weeks including Shanghai, Seoul, and even Canada. Many prestigious designer houses have even opted to show full runway extravaganzas for their resort and pre-fall collections as well. Many brands, both large and small, are joining the fashion week cycle because of the prestige and exposure that comes with it.

But one must ask, is the exposure worth the price tag that goes along with producing a fashion show?

Of course, the answer varies by brand. In 2019, Christian Siriano provided a breakdown of his show cost for Vogue Business that reached up to $300,000. It included models, set design, lighting, sound, and all the elements needed to create a runway show. According to an interview in Vogue, Siriano stated, “I think when our investors go through the numbers, it’s really hard for them to see actual returns, obviously, there are ways to tell if a collection is more successful than another, but that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the show. It has more to do with the timing, or the fabrications we’re using or what’s happening with the seasons.”

Christian Siriano’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

While a six-figure tab will give you a basic fashion show format, there are those designers who go to the extreme during NYFW. In 2011, The New York Times reported that Marc Jacobs (following in the European show extravaganza tradition) spent $1 million to produce his show. While these grand spectacles are a tool to sell clothes, the buyers attending these shows do not buy their collections during the show, but rather sales take place during private showroom appointments. So is it all worth it?

Rachel Feinstein’s set for Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2012 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The reach and cost-effectiveness of having such a show is difficult to determine. Most brands look to Instagram as a tool to determine how many potential customers have viewed their runway videos and images.

To hype their show and encourage sales, some brands have tried to offer customers specific looks immediately after the show, both in their stores and on their website, in an attempt to translate the excitement of the runway moment. Others have opted to live stream their runway show so customers can view the show and then immediately shop the collection. A few designers – such as Gucci and Balenciaga- have taken to regularly dropping new items between shows.

So with a six-figure price tag, many young designers are conflicted and ask the question, “is a fashion show worth the cost?” Well for many, the answer is yes. A fashion show is a great marketing tool. It is a way to get customers to notice your exciting and creative work. For many luxury brands, a show is a marketing tool to sell cosmetics, perfume and accessories. These brands may actually lose money producing clothes, as Exane BNP Paribas and the fashion consultancy firm VR Fashion Luxury Expertise have noted. But runway shows and their creative clothing are valuable to the branding. “Today shows have nothing to do with clothes anymore,” Guram Gvasalia, the CEO of Vetements, told WWD after the brand reorganized the scheduling of its runway shows in 2017. “Most of the looks are not even produced and therefore never get to the shop floor. Shows are there merely to sell a dream and that, at the end of the day, will sell a perfume or a wallet in a duty-free store.”

For smaller labels, branding is also an important opportunity that can benefit their brand. Christian Siriano told Vogue Runway that his shows, which have been praised for his diversity in models, have attracted other business, such as a shoe partnership with Payless. Presenting during a major fashion week also adds credibility and legitimacy to a young label. It can help put their brand on radar of industry leaders. Stylists for example keep an eye on fashion week and pull clothes for photoshoots and celebrity events. A young designer can easily land in an editorial layout or on the red carpet on a major celebrity. Or, catch the eye of a savy store buyer who just might be willing to give them a break.

The fashion industry represents over $2.5 trillion dollars (according to a recent McKinsey report in 2018) and, on average, a 10 to 15 minute fashion show can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million. With these hefty price tags brands must think, “what is the return on investment?” Is the answer social influence? Is it celebrities and street-style stars wearing the collection? Well, according to data analytics provider Launchmetrics, the answer is more complex.

Launchmetrics’ new “Data on the Runway” report suggests the key is MIV or media impact value – an algorithm which measures the impact of media placements to derive a number for performance outcomes.

Take Ralph Lauren’s 50th year anniversary for example (spring 2019), Launchmetrics’ data analysts found that Ralph Lauren’s widely publicized anniversary show ranked first amongst the brands, with the highest MIV generated over the Fashion Weeks at $38 million.

The star-studded event included Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Anna Wintour. Lauren also hosted an extravagant collection presentation and finished with a paparazzi-heavy post-show dinner party.

Left to right: Hillary Clinton, Ralph Lauren, and Anna Wintour. (Photo courtesy of Instagram@Ralph Lauren)

According to Launchmetrics, it is clear that influencers garnered enormous buzz for the brand (taking 46.2% of the pie), followed by Ralph Lauren’s owned media channels (at 29.7%).

Following Ralph Lauren, Launchmetrics estimated Coach ($27 million), Dior ($22.6 million) and Gucci ($19.4 million), followed closely behind and once again, Chiara Ferragni topped the charts as the top influencer voice.

Chiara Ferragani (known as The Blond Salad) led with $18.3 million in MIV; to put that into perspective, she nearly reached the same MIV as Versace ($18.7 million) did for their SS19 show — proving the continual power of influencer investments.

Influencer Chiara Ferragni (right) attends many shows over Fashion Month and is expected to boast $18.3 million in Media Impact Value – Zimbio.com

According to Forbes magazine, “social media actually proved imperative for fashion brands altogether; posts shared by celebrities and influencers represent an impressive 89% of buzz compared to online media’s 11%. Spring/Summer 19’s top-performing celebrity was Nicki Minaj, who generated a total of $11.3 million MIV over the season.”

Alison Bringé, CMO at Launchmetrics, said: “Today, fashion weeks are no longer industry events but are a platform to reach the digital savvy consumer, so brands need to think outside the box in order to transform their 15-minute event into something that lives on, beyond what happens on the runway. The case studies within the report shed light on how brands can generate buzz through activities such as using influencers to create 360° campaigns, changing their location to talk to new consumers and markets, or even by focusing on their own media to increase the share of wallet.”

While the ROI for having a runway show differs for every brand, one point is clear; a fashion show is the best way for a designer to communicate their creative vision. “For me, the show is the only moment when I can tell my story,” designer Dries Van Noten once told The Independent. “It’s the way I communicate my ideas to the world.”

Dries Van Noten’s men’s spring 2019 collection, inspired by the work of interiors designer Verner Panton (Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

“If I couldn’t do my shows, I wouldn’t want to be in fashion,” designer Thom Browne told author Booth Moore in her book, American Runway. “I look at my shows as my responsibility in the world of design to move design forward. I think they are such an amazing way of giving a more interesting context to fashion.”

Thom Brown’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

So in the end, we ask these questions: 1) Are fashion shows still relevant? 2) How do emerging designers afford the fashion show price tag? 3) Will the next generation of designers find an affordable alternative to the fashion show? 4) Will millennial & Gen Z designers find a way to disrupt the status quo and make the fashion show as obsolete as the floppy disk? 5) Will we soon be watching virtual 3D fashion shows with life-like avatars walking the runway?

Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Here Comes the Bride…..Fall 2020 Bridal Shows

Monique Lhuillier’s fall 2020 bridal collection. (Photo courtesy of designer)

The whimsical Fall 2020Bridal season has come to an end. And while the runways were filled with gorgeous white gowns, here at University of Fashion, we decided to dig deeper and explore the history of the bridal dress and why ‘white’ would become the ‘go-to’ color for brides.

HISTORY OF THE WHITE WEDDING DRESS

Shocker! Brides did not always wear white. Throughout the 19th century white textiles were impossible to clean by hand, so only the very wealthy could afford such high-maintenance fabrics. Therefore, most women wore their best dress on their special day.

A wedding photo from the late 1800s. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Keys Studio; source BBC)

In many Asian countries, red is the color of choice for brides, as the vibrant hue is a symbol of  luck, sexuality and happiness.

The red Dior wedding dress Priyanka Chopra wore for her Indian wedding reception in Dec. 2018 (Photo courtesy of People.com)

Queen Victoria was a trend-setter when she broke from the status quo with her 1840 wedding dress, by wearing a lace, ivory-colored silk satin gown. Fashion magazines embraced the look, calling ‘white the most fitting hue’ for a bride. The trend caught on and brides to this day have embraced the white gown.

A painting of Queen Victoria in her wedding gown and veil, given to her husband Prince Albert in 1847 as an anniversary gift. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; source Time)

Today, a wedding dress is usually only worn once and is often the most treasured and expensive garment a women will ever purchase. But for centuries women, including Queen Elizabeth, wore their wedding dress on multiple occasions — making alterations to fit with the times or a changing figure.

Queen Victoria re-purposed lace from her wedding gown in the dress she wore to her Diamond Jubilee. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; source BBC)

In the Roaring Twenties, as hemlines became shorter, brides opted for wedding dresses that rose above the knee.

Gloria Swanson in a 1920s wedding dress. (Courtesy of 1920s- Fashion-and- Music.com)

During World War II, many brides could not afford to purchase a new wedding dress; so they borrowed gowns or wore their service uniform on their special day.

In 1944, it was common for women to get married in their service uniforms. (Photo courtesy of AP; source BBC)

Hollywood has always influenced fashion and when Audrey Hepburn wore a demure mid-calf length dress to her wedding in 1954, the dress length became the most popular style for several years.

Audrey Hepburn and actor Mel Ferrer walk the aisle following their wedding ceremony in 1954. (Photo courtesy of AP; Source BBC)

The sixties ushered in a new bridal style – mini dresses paired with knee-high boots. The style reflected the times and was worn by fashion icon Audrey Hepburn during her second marriage in 1969.

Audrey Hepburn and her new husband, Dr. Andrea Dotti, leave City Hall in Morges, Switzerland, following their wedding ceremony in 1969. (Photo courtesy of AP; Source BBC)

The bohemian bride became the trend of the Seventies, as brides wore loose, empire-waisted, velvet dresses with extravagant sleeves.

Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding ceremony in 1973. (Photo courtesy of AP; source BBC)

In 1981, Princess Diana married Prince Charles, and suddenly the princess gown became the most popular silhouette of the decade. Brides everywhere wore full skirts, poufy sleeves and a tiara on their head.

Prince Charles kisses the hand of his new bride, Princess Diana, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1981. (Photo courtesy of AP)

After all the frou of the ’80s, the ’90s ushered in a clean, modern, minimalistic approach to bridal fashion. Brides opted for fitted sheath dresses that were chic and sophisticated.

Carolyn Bessette marries JFK Jr. in 1996, in a custom Narciso Rodriguez dress. (Courtesy of bostonherald.com)

Throughout the 20th century the majority of brides wore white on their wedding day. But, by the start of the 21st century, bridal designers started shaking up the bridal market by offering brides a range of pretty pastel gowns, tough only 4 to 5% of dresses sold at David’s Bridal  in 2014 were colored.

Gwen Stefani wore an ombre Galliano gown when she married Gavin Rossdale in 2002. (Courtesy of Observer)

BRIDAL FALL 2020

While every decade has had a signature bridal style, today’s bridal designers are offering up a wide variety of options for every type of bride. Here are a few of our favorite looks from the Fall 2020 bridal show season.

Pretty in pink in Monique Lhuillier. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Inbal Dror takes the transparency trend to new heights. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Wes Gordon exemplifies modern day chic as creative director for Carolina Herrera. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Anne Barge celebrates her 20 year anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Theia’s creative director Don O’Neill took inclusion one step further by including a disabled model in his fall 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of designer)

We’d love to hear from YOU, what is your favorite bridal decade and why?

WORKING GIRL CHIC RULES THE RUNWAY IN MILAN & PARIS

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

It may be the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese zodiac, but 2019 is turning out to be all about Female Power! Thanks to feminist movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and of course the Woman’s March that started as a worldwide protest against Donald Trump the day after his 2017 inauguration (and that has continued every year since), women are taking center stage around the world and demanding equality in every way. In 2018’s U.S. mid-term election, a record 117 women were elected to office. Finally … it looks like the tide has begun to change for women.

Rolling Stone's March  Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

Rolling Stone’s March Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

With extraordinary women being elected to powerful positions, designers are stepping up to the plate and creating powerful looks for these new high-profile women. The Fall 2019 collections saw the return of the “Power Suit” (remember your fashion history? Gaultier, Montana and Armani – circa 80s?). And, while the 80s versions consisted of exaggerated shoulder pads, wide belts, slim midi-skirts and bow blouses, all in traditional menswear inspired fabrics and colors, designers are putting a new slant on what a powerful woman in the 21st century should look like. Who could ever forget Melanie Griffith in the 1988 film Working Girl. Every young girl starting her career aspired to be Melanie’s iconic character, Tess McGill. Well, move over Tess, today’s woman is independent, outspoken, confident, diverse, opinionated, political, empowered and socially-conscious. These are the new role models for Millenials, Gen Zers and all those other generations to follow.

Check out Anthony Vaccarello’s collection for Saint Laurent, a 1980s redux, complete with shoulders that extended two whole centimeters beyond the natural shoulder and updated the looks by introducing a neon color palette.

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

And alas! Thirty years later, the power suit is back, but this time around, the suit is soft and feminine.  According to an interview by Olivia Stren, for FashionMagazine.com (September 17, 2018), designer Joseph Altuzarra stated, “I think that the suit, for a long time, was trying to emulate a menswear staple when women were wearing it to work. It was about hiding your femininity. With so many strong women today embracing a more tailored, feminine pantsuit silhouette, I think it has emerged as a symbol of female empowerment and strength. In our case, the tailoring is always about celebrating femininity and a woman’s strength.” Altuzarra  claims that tailored ‘workwear’ is at the heart of his brand and credits his mother, who clocked in at a bank every morning, as his inspiration.

With “women power” in the air, it was no surprise that power dressing and chic workwear were key trends on the Milan and Paris Fall 2019 runway. While many of the designers who embraced this trend were women, there were a few ‘woke’ men that embraced the movement as well. Namely…Karl Lagerfeld. Although Milan kicked off with the tragic news that Karl Lagerfeld has passed away on February 19th, his legacy lived on in his last collection for Fendi. And you just got the sense that, as always, Karl got the memo – Women Rule.

FENDI

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

He used to call me ‘la petite fille triste,” remembered Silvia Venturini Fendi, in an emotional backstage scene at the elegiac Fendi show, the last designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld, whom she first met when she was four years old. “Now is not the time to be sad,” she added, noting that Lagerfeld supervised every look in the focused collection that revealed what she called “those facets of himthe signatures that he had embedded into the brand’s DNA since he first met the quintet of Fendi sisters, including Venturini Fendi’s mother, Anna, in Rome in 1965.” Silvia Fendi stated to Vogue.com.

The collection included plenty of sharp tailoring paired with crisp shirts that added a refined, yet flirty, twist to office dressing.

MAX MARA

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Who could forget Nancy Pelosi in her Max Mara coat on her way to meet with Donald Trump in December regarding border wall funding – this moment was the inspiration behind creative director Ian Griffiths Fall 2019 Max Mara collection. Ms. Pelosi was front and center on Griffiths’s Fall mood board as he made a strong connection between power and glamour. Griffith played with sharp tailoring, in head to toe monochromatic colors that ranged from soft camel to bold blues.

PRADA

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

As one of the most politically-articulate designers in the fashion industry, having once been a member of the Italian Communist Party and an ardent feminist, the fear of war and the political turmoil worldwide has been a constant worry on Miuccia Prada’s mind. So, for her Fall collection, the designer was inspired by “romance and fear,” in of all things…a nod to the Bride of Frankenstein. For her romantic girls, Prada showed plenty of delicate lace capes, 3-D floral skirts and glittery red shoes, but these feminine gestures stomped their way into an army of utilitarianism looks that ranged from uniform military jackets to combat boots. The collection embraced the Prada woman; she’s smart, worldly, and understands the turmoil around her, yet she still really loves fashion.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Just days before the show, Salvatore Ferragamo announced Paul Andrew’s promotion to creative director, overseeing all design operations for the company. For Andrew, it all starts with ‘the shoe.’ Case in point, a Ferragamo multicolored patchwork shoe that was created in 1942, which provided the collection’s color palette and patchwork prints. Andrew also showed a more refined side with a chic belted pantsuit and lots of tailored outerwear.

GIORGIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani  (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

No one, and I mean no one, does tailoring better than Giorgio Armani. And for his Fall 2019 unisex show, the designer titled his collection “Rhapsody in Blue.” Although the collection was overwhelming dark (a sign of the times?), there were plenty of interesting details. Armani showed jodhpur pants paired with tailored jackets for day, while for evening he created a beaded floral shrunken jacket that was paired with velvet trousers for a relaxed take on eveningwear, as only Armani knows how.

GUCCI

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Okay, so you see the image of this houndstooth suit and you say, gotta be Chanel right? Well…wrong! It’s Alessandro Michele. Known for his eclectic, magpie collections for Gucci that often blast gender norms and historical mash-ups, for Fall 2019 he delivered a powerful collection filled with the treasured pieces you would find in your grandmother’s closet. With a nod to the 40s, Michele created tailored jackets that were cut to perfection for both men and women, as well as wide leg cropped trousers, Pierrot collar shirts and anything but basic outerwear. While this may have been a tamer Gucci collection, Michele infused plenty of eccentric touches – such as the fetish masks and metal ear coverings.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Among the designers that have truly taken their causes to the runway is Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Christian Dior. Season after season Chiuri takes a stand on women’s rights and equality. For Fall 2019, Chiuri channeled Italian conceptual artist Bianca Menna, who in the 1970s signed her work pseudonymously as Tomaso Binga, a man, to cunningly protest male privilege in the art world. The artist read a poem about the promise of a feminist victory at Chiuri’s show. As for the clothes, Chiuri was inspired by England’s “Teddy Girls” – 1950s working class girls who had a love of Rock & Roll and clubbing – as well as Dior’s  optimistic creations of the same time period. The collection was sportswear at its best! Chiuri layered rompers, skirts, coats, trousers and bustiers in a modern and fresh way.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten is known for his bold prints and unapologetic use of color, but let’s face it, today’s state of the world is a bit darker so Van Noten turned out a hauntingly beautiful show. While his signature floral prints are traditionally romantic and vibrant, this Fall the floral motif took a somber turn. In an interview with Vogue, Van Noten stated “We picked them from my garden last October and photographed them. I wanted roses but not sweet roses—roses with an edge, roses for now. Flowers can be romantic, but this I wanted to take out, because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.

Van Noten opened the show with a lineup of polished gray pantsuits, perfect looks for the office (political or business), case in point, a pinstripe belted pantsuit with a matching puffer stole. How incredibly chic! Can you just imagine Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this?

CHLOE

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé paid a touching tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the late designer who designed for the house  from 1963 – 1983. When the fashion crowd arrived, they found placed on their seats postcards that featured images of Lagerfeld’s past collections, as well as his own comments about his work. One particular quote from 1975 still resonates today, “The essence of modern dressing—unstructured, weightless, [and] totally feminine.”

Fast forward, forty years later, and this is still the Chloé aesthetic; upscale bohemian in the chicest and most sophisticated way. For her Fall 2019 collection, Natacha Ramsay-Levi found her stride at the house. There were an abundance of breezy but polished dresses that every “It Girl” will crave. Ramsay-Levi paired these effortless frocks with mid-heel boots to complete the effortlessly cool look.

Sure Ramsay-Levi nailed the boho look, but she also showcased her talents as a great tailor with Prince of Wales trousers and skirts, military-inspired trousers and plenty of outerwear,  cut to perfection.

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meanwhile at Balmain, Olivier Rousteing went full-out 80s biker chic. Big shoulders, biker chains, black leather moto jackets and power suiting on steroids was his vision of the modern woman. But, not so sure about whether this through-back look will help women in today’s day and age like it did in the 80s. What would Nancy Pelosi or RBG say?

So tell us, where do you stand on power-dressing in the 21st century?  

TIS THE SEASON: THE MAGIC OF HOLIDAY WINDOWS

 Louis Vuitton NYC Window display (Courtesy Photo)

Louis Vuitton NYC Window display (Courtesy Photo)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..the holiday season is a magical time when joyful cheer is celebrated and generosity for others is spread throughout the world. No matter what your religious beliefs, there is no denying that this season is filled with hope for a better tomorrow.  The holidays are also an opportunity for retailers and brands to end the year with high profit margins, as consumers shop for the perfect gifts family and friends.

The holiday season seems to be getting earlier and earlier. This year many retailers even officially kicked off the season by staying open on Thanksgiving! “Black Friday,” which is a public holiday in more than 20 states, presumably got it’s name from one of two theories: that the wheels of vehicles in heavy shopping traffic on the day after Thanksgiving Day left many black markings on the road surface. The other theory is that the term Black Friday comes from an old way of recording business accounts. Losses were recorded in red ink and profits in black ink. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, started making profits before Christmas especially on the Friday after Thanksgiving. “Cyber Monday” on the other hand, was first used in 2005 by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which needed a name for the flurry of online sales the Monday after Thanksgiving, since online merchants wanted the money that  brick-and-mortar stores were making on Black Friday.

But with today’s retail market being so saturated, and online shopping being so competitive, how do traditional brick-and-mortar retailers compete? The answer is simple, major department stores and retailers around the world lure customers in with their brilliant, spare-no-expense race for an exuberant gasp… holiday display windows, that have become a destination tourist attraction and in many cases a family tradition around the world!

Each store has their own unique style when it comes to their holiday windows. Macy’s and Lord & Taylor are known for their classic displays that delight Christmas shoppers and their children. Barneys New York is known for innovative and provocative displays, while Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue are known for over-the top glitz. No matter what, these windows attract costumers, something that an eCommerce site can’t do.

The tradition of holiday window displays dates back to the Industrial Revolution, when in the late 1800s plate glass became readily available and allowed shop owners to build large, full length storefront windows to display merchandise. This was the birth of window shopping as we know it today.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but one of the first major holiday window displays was created by the Macy’s New York store in 1874, featuring a collection of porcelain dolls and scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Children at the Macy’s toy window, ca. 1910 via The Library of Congress

Children at the Macy’s toy window, ca. 1910 via The Library of Congress

In the early 1900s major retailers across the U.S. began competing with each other. Store owners and managers used window displays to lure window shoppers into their stores, and holiday displays became more colorful and creative. By 1937, department store owner, specifically Lord & Taylor, decorated their windows with gilded bells that swung in sync with the sounds of recorded bells. This was a  turning point for retailers, as each began to transition their holiday windows into magical fantasy experiences, as opposed to just showcasing merchandise.

“Bell Windows” at Lord & Taylor, 1937 via MCNY

“Bell Windows” at Lord & Taylor, 1937 via MCNY

From that point on, year after year, competition among major brick-and-mortar retailers intensifies, as online shopping increases. But it’s this magical time of year that consumers are lured into stores to view these masterful works of art.  The grander and more innovative the display, the more attention it receives and let’s face it…the more likes on social media is always a good thing!

Here is a fantastical journey of holiday window displays from across the globe. Each retailer had a clear and strategic message to attract their customers.
Printemps Windows 2018 in Paris (Courtesy Photo)

Printemps Windows 2018 in Paris (Courtesy Photo)

At Printemps, in Paris,  Jules and Violette, the retailer’s recurring holiday mascots, are sent on a hunt for Santa Claus visiting the desert, Antarctica, the bottom of the sea, and mushroom-and flower-covered terrain with flapping butterflies.

Macy's Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (Courtesy Photo)

Macy’s Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (Courtesy Photo)

At Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan, a tale of friendship, family, adventure and teamwork unfolds as Sunny the Snowpal works to save Christmas, befriending a fox along the way.

Bloomingdale's Holiday Windows 2018 in New York (Coutesy Photo)

Bloomingdale’s Holiday Windows 2018 in New York (Coutesy Photo)

Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship store in New York City was inspired by “The Grinch.”

Bergdorf Goodman's Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (Courtesy Photo)

Bergdorf Goodman’s Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (Courtesy Photo)

Bergdorf Goodman’s windows in NYC are a sugar-filled delight with everything from a gingerbread cuckoo clock, whose timekeeper is prone to wander from her enormous chalet, to a peppermint-hued dream featuring a candy cane wizard.

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (Courtesy Photo)

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (Courtesy Photo)

Saks Fifth Avenue’s NYC window portrays a fashionable shopper’s visit to the theater, where instead of watching the show, she dreams of the retailer in a whimsical fantasy.

Barneys Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (courtesy Photo)

Barneys Holiday Windows 2018 in NYC (courtesy Photo)

Barneys New York takes the penny to greater heights with its Making Change theme, presented by the Barneys New York Foundation. The campaign, in partnership with Save the Children, invites guests to create some currency during the holidays, including using the hashtag #centiments, which results in a $5 donation by the foundation to Save the Children for every post. Now that’s spreading holiday cheer!

Galeries Lafayette Windows 2018 in Paris (Courtesy Photo)

Galeries Lafayette Windows 2018 in Paris (Courtesy Photo)

Galeries Lafayette in Paris envisions a “reverie with La fabrique des Rêves,” or manufacturer of dreams, featuring delightful characters imagined by children: furry dinosaurs and silly monsters in a playful and whimsical window is packed with toys and presents, plus seasonal pieces from the shop’s shoe and clothing collection.

Harvey Nichols in London Holiday Window (Courtesy Photo)

Harvey Nichols in London Holiday Window (Courtesy Photo)

Harvey Nichols, London is celebrating the new Disney film Mary Poppins Returns by showcasing four costumes worn by the cast. In reference to the iconic character’s favorite mode of transport, gold and silver umbrellas also decorate the windows.

Harrods in London Holiday Window Display (Courtesy Photo)

Harrods in London Holiday Window Display (Courtesy Photo)

Harrods in London serves up sweet treats in a festive celebration with oversized, mouthwatering  desserts.

Liberty in London Holiday Window Display (Courtesy Photo)

Liberty in London Holiday Window Display (Courtesy Photo)

Liberty London’s animal etchings on pillars and panels are a well-known part of the decor. The creatures appear in windows as two-dimensional black-and-white cutouts.

Selfridges in London Holiday Window Display (Courtesy Photo)

Selfridges in London Holiday Window Display (Courtesy Photo)

Selfridges’ “Santa on Tour” in London has St. Nick hitting the road and rocking designer created looks.

Mitsukoshi Holiday Windows 2018 in Tokyo (Courtesy Photo)

Mitsukoshi Holiday Windows 2018 in Tokyo (Courtesy Photo)

Mitsukoshi, located in Tokyo, mark the last Christmas of Japan’s Heisei period; the current emperor plans to abdicate in April, which will mark the beginning of a new period. Isetan creates a retro vision of the future featuring a rocking horse and snow globes cavorting with reindeer aided in flight by jet packs and Santa in a motorized sleigh.

Takashimaya Holiday Windows 2018 in Tokyo (Courtesy Photo)

Takashimaya Holiday Windows 2018 in Tokyo (Courtesy Photo)

Takashimaya’s in Japan’s Nihonbashi district store appeals to kids with mini carousels, model train and Ferris Wheel surrounded by plush animals.

Harbour City Holiday Windows 2018 in Hong Kong (Courtesy Photo)

Harbour City Holiday Windows 2018 in Hong Kong (Courtesy Photo)

At Harbour City, Hong Kong, shoppers who donate to the Hong Kong Blood Cancer Foundation can take a selfie with a giant video kaleidoscope where LED screen walls are filled with snowflakes, stars and rainbows.

Joyce Holiday Windows 2018 in Hong Kong (Courtesy Photo)

Joyce Holiday Windows 2018 in Hong Kong (Courtesy Photo)

Joyce’s dramatic holiday décor in Asia is a cross between, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Stranger Things.” The outcome is an upside-down Emerald City topped by a right-side-up Indiana cabin. The cutting edge retailer also has a 50 foot Christmas tree suspended from its ceiling.

So tell us, which is your favorite Holiday window display?

 

For those of you still on the hunt for the perfect gift for that fav fashionista:

.Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (Courtesy Photo)

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (Courtesy Photo)

https://www.amazon.com/Historical-Dictionary-Dictionaries-Professions-Industries/dp/1442239085/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1543860001&sr=1-1&keywords=historical+dictionary+of+the+fashion+industry

You can also pre-order our various technique books to perfect your skills:

To pre-order the Sewing: Techniques for Beginners – https://www.amazon.com/Sewing-Techniques-Beginners-University-Fashion/dp/1786271982/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1543860128&sr=1-7&keywords=Sewing+Techniques+for+Beginners

Sewing (Courtesy Photo)

Sewing (Courtesy Photo)

To pre-order the Draping: Techniques for Beginners – https://www.amazon.com/Draping-Techniques-Beginners-University-Fashion/dp/1786271761/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543860392&sr=8-1&keywords=Draping%3A+Techniques+for+Beginners

Draping (Courtesy Photo)

Draping (Courtesy Photo)

To pre-order the Pattern Making: Techniques for Beginners – https://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Making-Techniques-Beginners-University/dp/1786271966/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1543860796&sr=8-3&keywords=Pattern+Making%3A+Beginner+Techniques

Pattern Making (Courtesy Photo)

Pattern Making (Courtesy Photo)

 

 

And how about a gift certificate to the UoF?

cde7bd42-9d47-4ca6-991a-980317ec58dd

b8758834-1e59-4e71-9e3b-d0817b8d9b4c
Two Holiday Subscription Deals
  • Get $60 off a new Yearly subscription here!
  • That’s more than 30% off our usual $189 yearly rate!
  • Offer Only available for new Yearly subscribers. Current Monthly subscribers or Free Members, see below.

  • Get $5 off your first month of a new Monthly subscription here!
  • That’s more than 25% off our usual $19.95 monthly rate!
  • Offer only available for new Monthly subscribers. Current Free Members, see below.

  • Current Free Members and Monthly subscribers: Log in as usual, then look to the left and click “Upgrade to Monthly [or Yearly] Subscription (Special holiday rate)”.


  • All subscriptions give you unlimited access to every lesson on our entire website!

THE CHANGING FACE OF GLOBAL MENSWEAR

- - Fashion History, Menswear
Courtesy of i-d.vice.com

Courtesy of i-d.vice.com

Menswear is in constant evolution. The end-consumer is dictating what they want, which tribe they choose to belong to, and the personality they want to project. This has made the menswear industry very competitive, and in response, men’s fashion houses have been obligated to change their game, to listen to their consumer and are appointing new designers who understand the new generation and, more particularly, who understand their subcultures and tribes. The main focus in today’s menswear industry is to appeal to the final consumer’s lifestyle. This challenge goes beyond offering a good product, it also needs to be a product that ‘speaks’ to men’s tribes and their individual personalities. So, let’s examine who these new players are, what they are offering and who they are speaking to, and how they are seismically changing the present and future of the global menswear industry.

Kim Jones creative director Dior Homme (Courtesy BoF)

Kim Jones creative director Dior Homme (Courtesy BoF)

Recent new appointments in the menswear fashion industry, such as Kim Jones at Dior Homme and Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton Men’s (both brands under the LVMH umbrella), indicate that the market has changed. Fashion houses are now taking risks because they have identified that they must go forward to remain relevant for the next generation and those to follow. What do these players have in common? Both represent a movement that had been growing the past year. Kim Jones formerly at Louis Vuitton men’s and who created a blockbuster collaboration with the hip brand Supreme is now creative director at heritage brand Dior Homme.

Virgil Abloh creative director Louis Vuitton Men’s (Courtesyhighsnobiety.com)

Virgil Abloh creative director Louis Vuitton Men’s (Courtesyhighsnobiety.com)

Virgil Abloh, from DJ, music producer, Fendi intern, Kanye West’s creative director, to artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection since March 2018, Abloh is also chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house that he founded in 2013.

Both of these visionaries believe in ‘bottom-up’ fashion that is, bringing the street to high fashion, as well as the flexibility offered by social-media influenced athleisure, with its emphasis on T-shirts, and its reflection of a D-jin and music culture. The concept of ‘bottom-up’ is not new, Yves Saint Laurent made it his montra in the 70s and Marc Jacobs turned to the streets for his Grunge Collection in the 80s. But those were womenswear collections. Both Kim and Abloh have a history in designing streetwear for men and have each collaborated with Nike.

Although Jones studied design at Central Saint Martin’s and Abloh cut his teeth designing for Kanye West, both admit that they have gotten to know ‘fashion’ along the way. Their current collections speak to a new lifestyle, to a subculture of a younger generation and they are implementing street casual styles into their high fashion collections. To be clear, they are not abolishing suits or formalwear, they are just giving it a streetwear twist.

For example, presenting in their show a monochromatic suit with a t-shirt, technical sneakers and unique details around zippers, or presenting high quality functional bags with chain details. They are unifying two worlds we would not have imagined could speak to each other in the past. Formal and casual, function and decoration, these are no longer distinct categories, but ones that merge with each other. At the same time, these designers manage to speak to a tribe who is looking to be more individual while seeking to be included.

 

Dior Homme SS19 by Kim Jones (Courtesy of Vogue Runway)

Dior Homme SS19 by Kim Jones (Courtesy of Vogue Runway)

Louis Vuitton SS19 by Virgil Abloh (Courtesy of Vogue Runway)

Louis Vuitton SS19 by Virgil Abloh (Courtesy of Vogue Runway)

This connects us to other players such as Alessandro Michele at Gucci and Hedi Slimane now at Celine. They address younger generations with a unique vision, one that is more eccentric with a retro vintage feel (Gucci), and another one, more focused on rock culture (the new Celine). Both address a very important trend of the moment: the androgynous phenomenon. The ungendered design is key for these designers. They created transversal collections and androgynous looks that dominate the conversation of their collections, influencing the menswear arena. This trend is not about men wearing skirts, it is about changing mindsets, showing that men have changed, both in, and the way they view fashion, and in how they exercise their masculinity. This is reflected in how they shop, and as a result designer brands are implementing these changes in their product strategy.

Gucci by Alessandro Michele (Courtesy Vogue Runway)

Gucci by Alessandro Michele (Courtesy Vogue Runway)

 

Celine by Hedi Slimane (Courtesy of Vogue Runway)

Celine by Hedi Slimane (Courtesy of Vogue Runway)

 

There has also been a change in formal menswear. New players such as Thom Browne, Musika Frère, or recognized designers such as Ozwald Boateng have brought new product strategies to this category. Ozwald Boateng has mixed traditional classic British tailoring with color and new cuts targeting elite consumers who have unique personalities and are not part of the status quo.

Thom Browne, with his wild creativity, his fantastic tailoring and commercial core product pieces, with a clear brand identity such as the tricolor web, has won a fan base among millennials who were looking for an alternative from traditional formalwear.

And then we get to Musika Frère, a brand that was born in social media, created by Aleks Musika and Davidson Petit- Frère. This brand has a “neoclassic tailoring” style, as the creators themselves call it, specializing in custom suits that often come in unusual colors, patterns and details. This brand’s style has drawn famous celebrities in the African American community.

Ozwald Boateng (Courtesy of OzwaldBoateng.com)

Ozwald Boateng (Courtesy of OzwaldBoateng.com)

Thom Browne (Courtesy The New York Times)

Thom Browne (Courtesy The New York Times)

 

Musika Frere (Courtesy of Instagram)

Musika Frere (Courtesy of Instagram)

So, what do all these brands have in common? Their product strategies have successfully attracted a specific tribe that still wants the elegance of a suit but in a unique and special way, something that truly represents them and their personalities and that makes them stand out.

As menswear evolves, brands in the industry have realized that the fundamental formula to attract new and younger consumers is to truly represent them. The key for fashion houses now is to adopt this bottom-up approach, understand their consumers, their tribe and subcultures, in order to cater to them in a genuine way. All of the above-mentioned brands have used different menswear strategies to be relevant to the market and its future generations. They have taken risks because they know that nowadays, men are freer and use fashion to show who they truly are.

To learn more about menswear design, be sure to check out the new menswear discipline on our  University of Fashion website.

Menswear: A Trip Down Memory Lane

- - Fashion History, Menswear

8ee72f47498383.587cb4306f1e7

In fashion, we tend to overlook the menswear industry. It doesn’t change as much with the seasons and is all about the details, the fit and the fabrics. For some, it is not as interesting as the womenswear… until now. Menswear has been growing faster than womenswear and is expected to reach $33 billion by 2020. That’s why it is extremely important, as a designer or retailer, to learn about this segment of the industry.

The University of Fashion has recently launched its menswear discipline, so before checking out our lessons, how about taking a trip down memory lane to understand how the menswear industry has evolved?

Men’s fashion was initially functional in purpose. Paleolithic nomads used animal skins as protection from environmental conditions. The Ancient Egyptians provided the first signs that men’s clothing could made the leap from function to fashion. In this period, clothing and accessories began to serve as key symbols of rank and fortune.

Later on, the wealthiest men adopted tunics, and this trend continued with the toga in Ancient Greece and Rome, as well in the Middle Ages. During these periods, the essential item was the fabric, made of the finest materials.

Courtesy of Flickr and Chatirygirl

Courtesy of Flickr and Chatirygirl

Menswear Revolution

A big shift in menswear followed the American (1775-1783) and French (1789-1799) Revolutions, when fashion became understated and “undress” was the popular opposition to the abundant adornments that defined aristocracy. While men continued to wear the waistcoat, coat and breeches of the previous period for both full dress and undress, they were now made of the same fabric, signaling the birth of the three-piece suit. The early 1800s saw the final abandonment of lace, embroidery and other embellishment from serious men’s clothing and it became gauche to dress like an aristocrat.

In Britain, Beau Brummell, a trendsetter of the time, was credited with introducing and making the modern man’s suit and necktie fashionable. Savile Row, or “The Row” as it is commonly-termed, became the center of traditional bespoke tailoring. This trend led to trousers that are popular in menswear today and have been for the past 200 years. What Paris was to women’s fashion, London was to men’s. After the American Civil War (1861-1865), standardized sizing in men’s clothing introduced the concept of mass-production, with less individual tailoring, and the necktie was introduced by 1880.

Frock Coat (Courtesy of He spoke style)

Frock Coat (Courtesy of He spoke style)

Bea Brummel (Courtesy of He Spoke Style)

Bea Brummel (Courtesy of He Spoke Style)

 

The 1900s

During the 1900s, the United States took an even less formal approach to fashion when they introduced the ‘sportswear’ trend. With the invention of the automobile, American fashion landed in England and the dinner jacket, a more leisurely attire, became popular among the younger generations.

Another big American fashion influence at the time was jazz music. A new generation of men were rebelling against the traditions of their fathers and clothing inspired by the Jazz Age was born, consisting of tight-fitting suits. America became the center of the men’s fashion world and modern fashion was here to stay. Blazers became popular for summer wear, the tuxedo was the jacket of the night, and the Zoot suit was popular in the nightclubs of Harlem. The “gangster influence” in suits was also an important trend. Fashion for men became a display of their personality and environment.

 

Zoot Suits (Courtesy of Vintage dancer)

Zoot Suits (Courtesy of Vintage dancer)

Casual Menswear Emerges

By the late 1940s and early 1950s, beginning with the introduction of the Hawaiian shirt, California surfer culture emerged and is ever present in men’s fashion even today. Another 50s trend was the “preppy look,” consisting of clothes worn by men at prep and Ivy League schools, such as button-down shirts, golf shirts, chino pants, and loafers. Other trendsetters in the 1950s included Elvis Presley and the British Teddy Boys. The key to these new fashion trends was comfort with personality, each trend helping to define the ‘tribe’ or subcultures to which a man chose to belong.

The 60s & 70s

The 1960s brought Italian fashion to the forefront. Brands emerged that were able to compete with the bespoke tailors of Saville Row. Still relevant among that group initial group are Brioni, Nino Cerutti and Ermenegildo Zegna.

With the ‘British Invasion’ of the 60s came another important influence, Collarless, cylindrical suits created for the Beatles by Pierre Cardin and Douglas Millings were all the rage and helped usher in the ‘mod look’ and later the ‘psychedelic look.’

By the 1970s, ‘disco style,’ popularized by the movie “Saturday Night Fever” and ‘punk style’ from London, brought a new generation of menswear consumers into the marketplace. The concept of individuality and personality was fundamental to this period and continues today.

 

Princeton 1950’s (Courtesy of Google Life archives)

Princeton 1950’s (Courtesy of Google Life archives)

10 years of Beatles style (Courtesy of Mauro Amaral)

10 years of Beatles style (Courtesy of Mauro Amaral)

The 80s Impact

The 1980s became known as the ‘decade of excess,’ as Baby Boomers and Yuppies placed importance on ‘status’ and ‘luxury.’ In the movie American Gigolo, Giorgio Armani designed relaxed, yet elegant, deconstructed suits that epitomized the sexy, wealthy young man (played by Richard Gere), as the “playboy” of the time. This trend was in contrast to the emergence of streetwear looks associated with the ‘breakdance’ movement, which consisted of sneakers, shoes with thick, elaborately patterned laces and colorful nylon tracksuits.

 

The 90s Clean & Classic

As a backlash to 80s ‘bad taste,’ the 1990s represented the clean, pared down era, a time when menswear returned to beautifully tailored suits in classic colors, especially those from Helmut Lang, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, Nino Cerutti, Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren. The term “metrosexual” was coined by British journalist Mark Simpson as the trait of an urban male of any sexual orientation (usually heterosexual) who has a strong aesthetic sense and spends a great amount of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle. Italian suits were the basis for luxury and high-quality dressing. The Armani suit dressed the businessman throughout the decade until “business casual” took over in the mid-to-late 1990s. Other trends went in and out of fashion during this decade including the grunge look and a return to punk style, although this time known as ‘cyber punk’ and ‘hip-hop style,’ inspired by street culture. In an ironic move, the preppy look made a comeback in the late 90s, closely associated with the Tommy Hilfiger clothing line, which emulated the more expensive preppy look pioneered a decade earlier by Ralph Lauren.

Richard Gere in Armani from the movie American Gigolo (Courtesy of Classiq me)

Richard Gere in Armani from the movie American Gigolo (Courtesy of Classiq me)

 

Break Dancing (Courtesy Getty images)

Break Dancing (Courtesy Getty images)

New Millennium – A Look Back & Forward

The new millennium began with a retro influence, a mixture of the best elements of all previous fashion eras. Once the first major American corporation Alcoa sanctioned casual office attire in 1991, it wasn’t long before “casual Friday” was replaced with “casual everyday” as most companies loosened their dress code restrictions, with the exception of the legal and financial professions and those requiring uniforms.

In 2000, designer Hedi Slimane introduced the ‘ultra-skinny silhouette’ at Dior and mainstreamed them later at Saint Laurent – ushering in a seismic shift in the menswear industry.

In 2006, American designer Thom Browne burst onto the menswear stage with his ‘short length suits.’ Sports, performance apparel and the new athleisurewear category, continue to play a major role in men’s clothing.

As designers attempt to blur the lines between men and women’s fashion, such as J.W. Anderson and his ‘shared closet’ concept, the androgynous fashion movement continues to be explored.

With a booming economy bespoke tailoring is enjoying a comeback. New bespoke tailors are gaining popularity, with brands such as Ozwald Boateng (British-Ghanian descent) and Musika Frère (American), whose suits are offered in unusual colors and patterns, and whose client list includes, Jay Z, Michael B. Jordan, Stephen Curry, Kevin Hart and even Beyoncé.

In 2018, John Galiano introduced the world to ‘men’s couture’ with his Artisanal bias cut suits for Maison Margiela.

 

Hedi Slimane – Skinny jeans (Courtesy Dior Homme)

Hedi Slimane – Skinny jeans (Courtesy Dior Homme)

Today, the top designer menswear brands are truly an international set. Among the top 10 are:  Tom Ford (American), Gucci (Italian-Alessandro Michele), Neil Barrett (British), Thom Browne (American), DSquared2 (Canadians -Dean and Dan Caten), Dolce & Gabbana (Italian), Moncler (French), Louis Vuitton (French house-American designer Virgil Abloh), Prada (Italian) and Balmain (French-Olivier Rousteing).

Menswear has certainly evolved, from a rigid, controlled look, to one that is more casual, more personal and more connected to today’s lifestyle. Yes, menswear doesn’t change radically, but its evolution definitely shows that men are using fashion to express who they are now. Men who are freer to be themselves, men who are more comfortable in their own skin, and who are using fashion for self-expression, makes the future of menswear an exciting proposition.

Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh (Courtesy of Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh (Courtesy of Louis Vuitton)

Care to share who are your favorite menswear designer/designers of all time?

Rare Kicks Auctioned to Kick Slave Labor in the Fashion Industry

unspecified-9

Pictured above: Kith X Nike LeBron James XV, Long Live the King Part II, 2018

This summer, the rarest, most coveted sneaker collaborations were on view on Park Avenue at the Tongue + Chic, Sneakers  X Artists exhibition. The exhibition ran for only about a month and a half, and we were lucky to make it in before the closing date of August 31. Sneakerheads came from near and far (and formed lines around the block) just to get a glimpse of famous collaborations between Nike, Converse, Puma, Reebok and various artists and influencers. Read More