University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion History"

Remembering Gianni Versace

Remembering Gianni Versace

It’s been twenty years since the senseless murder of Gianni Versace, a day that will always be etched in the minds of the fashion community. The late designer revolutionized fashion with his hybrid blend of  ‘high glamour meets rock and roll.’

Gianni Versace in 1991 (Courtesy of Herbie Knott/Rex/ShutterStock)

Gianni Versace in 1991 (Courtesy of Herbie Knott/Rex/ShutterStock)

Gianni Versace passed away on July 15, 1997 outside of his mansion, Casa Casuarina, in South Beach, Miami. He was shot to death by deranged killer Andrew Cunanan. The fashion world was in shock as the infamous party boy, always flocked by his super-model crew, died in such a tragic and horrific way. Fashion lost its playful innocence and the fantasy world of fashion was shattered.

Gianni Versace's South Beach Miami Home (Courtesy of NY Daily News.com)

Gianni Versace’s South Beach Miami Home (Courtesy of NY Daily News)

Gianni’s impact on fashion and pop culture is undeniable. He was at the forefront of reinventing fashion as a glamorous feast on a global scale. He surrounded himself with celebrity royalty – Madonna, Sting, Bon Jovi, George Michael and Hugh Grant – they all attended his extravaganza runway shows. Supermodels fought to walk his shows – he had all the greats – Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, to name a few.

Naomi Campbell, Gianni Versace and Christy Turlington in 1991 (Courtesy of Gevril.com)

Naomi Campbell, Gianni Versace and Christy Turlington in 1991 (Courtesy of Gevril.com)

Gianni’s looks were sexy and seductive. His body hugging creations were worn by his supermodel friends and celebrities as they partied the night away. Gianni’s skill was to connect raunchy sex with couture audacity – like his iconic safety pin dress, which was catapulted into fashion history by Liz Hurley.

Elizabeth Hurley in the Safety Pin dress in 1994 (Courtesy of Dave Benett/Getty))

Elizabeth Hurley in the Safety Pin dress in 1994 (Courtesy of Dave Benett/Getty)

Gianni was born on December 2, 1946, in Reggio Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot. Like many of the great designers, Gianni came from a modest background. His father Antonio was a local coal merchant, his  mother Francesca sewed dresses for the elite townswomen, and Gianni made his first dress – a blue one-shoulder evening gown – at the age of nine. Some forty years later, Princess Diana wore a version of that creation.

Princess Dianna (Courtesy of Pintrest)

Princess Dianna (Courtesy of Pintrest)

After studying architecture, Gianni moved to Milan and spent 10 years working  for a variety of mainstream labels, before he came to attention in the late 1970’s when he staged his first signature show in the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

From the start, Gianni’s clothes were ground-breaking ; his mix of fabrics were unique and cutting edge – he was known for pairing leather and lace with metal, studs and Swarovski crystals. At the time, mixing all these elements was inconceivable. Gianni also had a keen eye for color and worked with rich sherbet colors. He was a master draper and often referenced the Grecian goddess gowns of Madame Grès as well as Madeleine Vionnet’s bias cut designs that accentuated the body to perfection.

Versace Girls in 1994 (Courtesy of Dazed.com))

Versace Girls in 1994 (Courtesy of Dazed.com))

Gianni’s true genius was in the form of branding. His logo – the Medusa head and the Grecian frieze – became his trademark. Everyone knew the Versace symbol. It was everywhere from his clothing to his lingerie from his bedding to his fine China.

His business grew incredibly fast, creating a fortune large enough to afford his private palazzo on Via Gesù and his magnificent Villa Fontanelle on Lake Como – all containing his eclectic mix of ancient Greek and Roman statuary, Renaissance furniture and modern art.

Gianni Versace and His Super Models in Milan, 1991(Courtesy of Vittoriano Rastelli/Getty)

Gianni Versace and His Super Models in Milan, 1991(Courtesy of Vittoriano Rastelli/Getty)

Gianni was openly gay, living publicly with loyal partner Antonio D’Amico, during a time 20 years ago when many homosexuals were still in the closet. He greatly valued family, which appealed to traditional Italian famiglia ideas. Gianni’s brother Santo ran the commercial side, while little sister Donatello designed the diffusion line, Versus.

At his infamous Miami mansion, friends like Anna Wintour would come to stay with her family and picnic on the beach. But also party animals like Whitney Huston and Bobby Brown would attend Gianni’s  legendary parties  –  and boy did Gianni and his elite friends know how to party! Gianni transitioned from designer to celebrity and attracted the world of Hollywood and music. Being a celebrity comes with a price; you are a target. On the tragic morning of July 15, 1997, Gianni was off on a coffee run and regrettably met his death, shot down by Andrew Cunanan, a failed dreamer who had met Gianni seven years before – when the designer dressed the San Francisco Opera – and felt deep resentment towards him.

His funeral packed out Milan’s great cathedral, Il Duomo. Princess Diana arrived to pay her respects and the entire fashion industry came to pay homage, as well as Hollywood and musical royalty. Within just six weeks, Princess Diana would die in a fatal car accident. Two fashion icons gone in the summer of 1997.

Princess Diana and Elton John at Gianni Versace's funeral in 1997  (Courtesy of Gevril Group)

Princess Diana and Elton John at Gianni Versace’s funeral in 1997 (Courtesy of Gevril Group)

After Gianni was murdered, it was announced that Donatella would become creative director, with a 20 per cent share of the business, and Santo was appointed CEO, with a 30 percent share. (Donatella’ daughter Allegra, who was eleven at the time, was left a 50 percent stake, which she assumed control over on her 18th birthday).

The Versace brand has had its many ups and downs, but today, Gianni’s aesthetic is apparent every season in fashion – with a new generation of creative directors as diverse as Christopher Kane, Riccardo Tisci, Fausto Puglisi and Olivier Rousteing all openly admitting the Versace inspiration, while a new wave of contemporary music icons, including Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj have fallen for the brand all over again.

Donatella has been busy designing the brand while watching her children grow. Her daughter Allegra  has caught the fashion bug as she is working on Versus, which has been reborn as a hothouse of fledgling talent, bringing in young design stars like Christopher Kane, Jonathan Anderson and Anthony Vaccarello, each of whom has gone on to achieve international success in their own right.

This past February, Donatella announced that she has lured Riccardo Tisci as creative director for Versace, a very smart move; after all, Tisci is responsible for all the great success at Givenchy. Retailers, fashion editors and bloggers everywhere are holding their breath waiting to see what Tisci brings to the legendary house of Versace.

Ricardo Tisci and Donatella Versace  (Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar Singapore)

Ricardo Tisci and Donatella Versace (Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar Singapore)

 

Patriotic Fashion

To The Red, White and Blue: The American Flag in Fashion

American Flag in Fashion (Courtesy of  Quora.Com)

American Flag in Fashion (Courtesy of Quora.Com)

Happy Memorial Day! It’s the official kickoff weekend to the summer in the United States.  It’s time to hit the beach and enjoy some fun barbeque smoked food parties. With Independence Day right around the corner, what better way to show national pride than by wearing the iconic red, white and blue flag print.

The first official flag of the United States was introduced on June 14, 1777 and represented our founding 13 colonies with thirteen stripes in red and white and thirteen stars.  The American flag as we know it today has only been around since 1960 (July 4th, 1960, to be exact). It was introduced shortly after Hawaii became the nation’s fiftieth state, and in its long and tricolored history, there have been a grand total of 27 official, government approved versions: As states were added, so were the stars. What has remained consistent, the flags thirteen red and white alternating stripes—representing our original thirteen colonies. Citizens proudly hung their flags in front of their homes, schools and government buildings. They had great respect for their nation.

America was seen as the land of economic prosperity and enabling dreams – “The American Dream”.  This slogan was made popular through intense marketing. The goal was singular: to project America to be the best place in the world to be living in. And it paid off. America became an attractive destination for some of the world’s smartest immigrants and global investment.

Through the years, the American flag has become a fixture in the fashion world all across the United States and even overseas. The fashion world’s homages to the flag over the years have been a little more abstract. It’s most definitely a popular motif, but the banner’s many variations run the gamut from straight-up remodeled – case in point, Givenchy’s spring 2014 men’s tech-y colored jumpers – to Catherine Malandrino’s gauzy iconic flag dress  (which featured heavily in FIT’s 2009 “Fashion & Politics” exhibition).

Catherine Malandrino 2001 (Courtesy of Pintrest)

Catherine Malandrino
2001 (Courtesy of Pintrest)

 

Givenchy Men's Spring 2014 (Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Givenchy Men’s Spring 2014 (Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Most often it’s a bankable subject – look at Ralph Lauren. The designer has been printing the American Flag image on many variations on his t-shirts for years. You cannot attend a 4th of July party without someone in the crowd wearing a Ralph Lauren iconic flag tee (they can be found in his men’s, woman’s and children’s collections). Tommy Hilfiger is another sportswear giant who incorporated the iconic American symbol as a logo for his collection.

Tommy Hilfiger X Gigi Hadid spring 2017 (Courtesy of  Tommy Hilfiger)

Tommy Hilfiger X Gigi Hadid spring 2017 (Courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger)

 

Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren (Courtesy of Lyst.Com)

Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren (Courtesy of Lyst.Com)

 

On the runway, Thom Browne has become famous for his signature red, white, and-blue grosgrain trims, let alone his unconventional runway collections that, somehow, blend country-strong iconoclasm with theatricality and excitement. Meanwhile, Chanel’s pre-fall 2014 rodeo in Dallas extravaganza, Karl Lagerfeld embraced the motto “Everything is bigger in Texas.” The show was a barn-burner of a star-spangled spectacle in all its glory.

 

Thom Browne Spring 2017 (Courtesy of ssense.com)

Thom Browne Spring 2017 (Courtesy of ssense.com)

 

Chanel pre-fall2014 (Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Chanel pre-fall2014 (Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

So in honor of Memorial Day, Independence Day and the start to summer, wear your Flag motif proudly. No matter what your political party is, we should all be patriots.

Miu Miu Spring 2011 (Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Miu Miu Spring 2011 (Courtesy of Vogue.Com

More than just Ruffles: How Spain Inspires International Fashion

- - Fashion History

Flamenco dancers, bullfighting, matadors, and paella, are only some of the things that come to mind when we think of Spain, but in the fashion world, Spain is really so much more.

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Flamenco dancer (Image Credits: Wikipedia)

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Bullfighter (Image Credits: Pixabay)

From Queen Isabella to Present Day

The history of Spanish fashion dates back more than 500 years, to Queen Isabella’s (1474-1504) commissioning of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the New World. What became known as Spain’s “Golden Age,” which lasted into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603), introduced the world to rich Spanish textiles, intricate laces, sumptuous leathers and delicate embroideries.

Born in Guetaria, Spain, Cristòbal Balenciaga (1895–1972), made major contributions to the fashion world. Not only did he train future famous designers André Courrèges and Emanuel Ungaro, but his namesake house still continues today. Under the creative leadership of Demna Gvasalia, the Balenciaga ‘bubble dress’ was re-invemted in 2017.

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Balenciaga bubble dress from Fall 2017 collection (Image Credits: Balenciaga.com)

Loewe, originally founded in 1846 by a cooperative of leather artisans, is another example of a lasting Spanish heritage brand. Spanish designers Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, Manolo Blahnik, and Miguel Adrover have left also their mark on the international fashion scene, as have Spanish fast fashion retailers, Desigual, Zara and Mango.

Spanish Inspired Fashion

Whether it is ruffles, flounces, peasant blouses, rich Cordovan leathers, Blonde lace, Tenerife Lace, fringe or Goldwork embroideries, designers from around the world continue to tap Spain for inspiration.

Let’s take a look at some Spanish -inspired fashion that has appeared on the runway in recent years, beginning with Ralph Lauren’s use of ruffles, flounces and matador hats n 2013.

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Ralph Lauren Spring Summer 2013

Dolce & Gabbana, was inspired to create this tiered high-waisted skirt, an embroidered bolero shorts suit, and this fringed dress for their Spring Summer 2015 collection.

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Dolce & Gabbana Spring Summer 2015

At Oscar de la Renta, Peter Copping used Spanish art, bullfighters and postcards as inspiration for this collection that featured Spanish lace, ruffles, and flounced skirts. The flamenco heeled shoe completed the look!

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Oscar de la Renta Spring Summer 2016

Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler and Blugirl definitely had Spain on their minds as they all went ‘ruffle-crazy’, adding ruffles to flamenco skirts and sleeves in their Spring Summer 16 collections. Michael Kors even added some Spanish lace for allure.

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Blugirl Spring Summer 2016

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Michael Kors Spring Summer 2016

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Proenza Schouler Spring Summer 2016

Diane von Furstenberg showcased the Spanish peasant blouse and dress in her Spring Summer 2016 collection, and updated them in the hottest pink.

dvf-ss16-1spanish-inspired-fashion

Diane von Furstenberg Spring Summer 2016

Spanish lace, fringe and ruffles at Balmain for Fall Winter 2016 was a glamorous take on male Flamenco dancers and modern Spanish fashion.

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Balmain Fall Winter 2016 Collection

New Zealand designer Karen Walker, transformed Spanish frill sleeves and flamenco dresses into everyday wear – translating them into denim jackets for her Spring Summer 2017 collection.

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Karen Walker Spring Summer 2017 collection

Alberta Ferretti also got in on the act with her interpretation of tiered skirts paired with bandeaus and ruffle tops.

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Alberta Ferretti Spring Summer 2017

Modern Fashion in Spain

Whether it is by studying the work of Cristòbal Balenciaga, the ‘Master,’ who gave the world the bubble and sack dress or Manolo Blahnik, with his famous Sex and the City shoe, or the creative modern genius of Paco Rabanne, who used unconventional materials such as rhodöid discs, plastic paillettes and laser discs in his designs, Spain will undoubtedly continue to be a unique source of inspiration for future generations of fashion designers.

paco rabanne

Paco Rabanne rhodöid disc dress 1966

Women Who Inspire: Change-makers in History

The surge of woman-power we’ve witnessed over the past few months is nothing short of inspiring. With an estimated 4 million people (in the US alone) joining the Women’s March on January 22, the impact of girls, women and their supporters working together cannot be denied.

In the fashion industry, the story may be lesser known, but the impact women have made on unfair practices is no different. Read More

Japan: Its Influence and Contributions to Global Fashion

- - Fashion History

When you think of Japanese fashion, you think of the kimono. But dig deeper and you’ll find that Japan’s contribution to the world of fashion is much, much, more. In fact, Japan has greatly influenced the western world of fashion, even more than its eastern counterparts; China, India and Southeast Asia!

After World War II, Japan geared up for a revolution in terms art, architecture, fashion and technology, while preserving its historical roots and its aesthetic philosophy of wabi sabi (the art of Imperfection). It was out of this very philosophy that Japan established itself as a creative power house, one that would eventually take the fashion world by storm.

Traditional Japanese Fashion

From Paul Poiret to Eileen Fisher (and hundreds of designers in between), the classic kimono silhouette, with wrapped obi sash, has appeared in numerous designer collections over the years, in one form or other.

kimono

Traditional Japanese Kimonos (Image Credits: japan-zone.com)

Kimonos come in many different styles, each worn for a different occasion. Frequently, they are made in cotton or silk and featured in multi-colored block prints, embroidered or in woven floral patterns.

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Traditional Japanese Kimonos (Image Credits: fotoedu.indire.it)

obi

Japanese Obi (Image Credits: Wikipedia)

Two of the most widely recognized Japanese patterns are cherry blossoms and butterfly prints. Traditionally, Japanese fabrics also use dyeing techniques and wood block printing to create repetitive patterns.

bingata

A fabric featuring a typical pattern of Bingata, a dyeing technique from Okinawa, Japan

wood block print japanese

Popular traditional pattern made with wood block printing (Image Credits: Fabrictales.com)

butterfly print

Fabric with traditional Japanese butterfly print (Image Credits: fabricandart.com)

Western Fashion Draws Inspiration from Japan

Japan’s rich heritage became inspiration for western designers, such as Marni, Armani and Zuhair Murad.

zuhair murad

Zuhair Murad Fall/Winter 2011-12 Couture (Image Credits: Weddinginspirasi.com)

marni spring summer 2014 (2)

Marni Spring Summer 2014 Ready-to-Wear (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Armani Privé Fall/Winter 2011-12 Couture (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Armani Privé Fall/Winter 2011-12 Couture (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Proenza Schouler FALL 2012 READY-TO-WEAR (Vogue.com)

Proenza Schouler Fall/Winter 2012 Ready to Wear (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

prada

Prada Spring Summer 2013 Ready to Wear (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Japan’s Contributions to 20th Century Fashion

While Western designers were busy drawing inspiration from traditional costume of Eastern countries such as China, Japan and Indonesia (known as Chinoiserie and Orientalism), Japanese designers were inspired beyond their roots, turning their wabi sabi aesthetic into a major fashion movement that began in the 1970s and continues to the present day.

De-Construction Movement

The De-Construction Movement, which started in 1970s and gained momentum in the 80s, refers to the era of collective avant-garde artistic expression in fashion. Traditional feminine silhouettes were challenged, essentially de-constructed, to give way to a new aesthetic. A group of Japanese designers, led by Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, played with the idea of androgyny and embraced unevenness and imperfection while simultaneously creating beautiful clothing.

comme des garcons suit


Suit by Comme des Garçons from the De-Construction Era circa 1985 (Image Credits: metmuseum.org)

Rei Kawakubo, founder and designer of Japanese fashion house Comme des Garçons, is regarded as one of the most important names in the fashion today. Blurring the lines between perfect and imperfect, male and female, made and unmade, these designers appealed to the modern woman who preferred comfort and over the body contoured clothes of that period.

commedesgarcons

Comme des Garçons photo-shoot circa 1989 (Image Credits: calvertjournal.com)

Zero Waste

The Zero-Waste movement was led by Japanese designer Issey Miyake. With his A-POC collection (A Piece of Cloth) in 1999, Miyake minimized waste by making clothes out of a single piece of fabric, so that excess fabric waste wouldn’t end up in over-crowded landfills.

a poc

A-POC by Issey Miyake (Image Credits: moma.org)

Cosplay

Combining the words “costume” and play”, this term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi in 1984, and refers to the trend of wearing costumes of a particular character or theme, such as Japanese anime. Over the last few years, cosplay has extended itself to outside the realm of anime and manga characters and become commonplace, owing to events like FanimeCon and ComicCon with themes from Hollywood movies and American pop culture.

cosplay

Cosplay of the Yu-Gi-Oh character “Dark Magician Girl” (Wikipedia)

Japanese Collaborations & Exhibitions

In 2003, Marc Jacobs began a collaboration Japanese artist Takashi Murakami on a series of Louis Vuitton iconic handbags. In addition to his work with Vuitton, which only ended in 2015, Murakami has had numerous exhibitions of his work and has been featured in major magazines. Japanese artist Yayoi Kasama also designed a series of handbags for Vuitton in 2012 and has had her work featured in exhibitions around the world.

For their upcoming spring 2017 exhibition, The Costume Institute of Metropolitan Museum of Art will honor the work of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.

takashi murukami-louis-vuitton

A bag from Takashi Murakami’s Multicolored Monogram collection for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Louis Vuitton

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Kylie Jenner in a photo-shoot for Complex magazine created in collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami who incorporated his trademark anime-graphics (Image Credits: Complex.com)

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Yayoi Kasama handbag for Louis Vuitton 2012 (NY Magazine)

And Now?

The world is still in awe of all things Japanese, from sushi to sumo. Japan’s sartorial legacy, which in addition to Miyake, Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, also includes designers Hanae Mori, Junko Koshino, Kansai Yamamoto, Junko Shimada and Kenzo Takada. Today, a new crop of design talent beginning, with Limi Feu (daughter of Yohji Yamamoto) and Tae Ashida (daughter of legendary designer Jun Ashida) are bursting onto the fashion scene and are being noticed.

Will China, India and other non-western cultures, be able to step up to the plate and make their own unique mark on the global fashion stage, just as Japan has done?

Let us hear your thoughts!

Inspiration China- Moving Beyond Dynasties & Dragons

- - Fashion History

History

China has been a cultural marvel for the past 5,000 years, beginning with their discovery of the silk worm during the Neolithic period (4th millennium BCE). Chinese artisans wove the most amazing textiles and introduced robes with intricate handcrafted embroideries that, to this day, provide a wealth of inspiration. Over time, Western designers began incorporating Chinese cultural symbolism into their designs: the philosophy of Confucius, Chinese calligraphy and porcelain, Imperial Chinese dynastic robes featuring embroidered dragons (a symbol of power), the martial arts of Tai Chi and Kung Fu, Chinese medicine and food, and of course, the Great Wall.

After the Chinese national revolution of 1911, the country began to accept a more “modern” form of dress. By the mid-twentieth century, the tight-fitting dress known as a cheongsam or qípáo, became traditional women’s dress and the “Mao suit,” a modern revolutionary garment, often made in blue cotton, was the expected attire for men.

Subsequently, when we visualize Chinese or Chinese-inspired clothing, we imagine large dragon motifs, dense floral embroidery, including lotus and plum blossoms. Works of calligraphy paired with red geometric borders and China porcelain art comes to mind. With time, Mandarin collars, Mao jackets and frog closures also found their way into Western designers’ collections.

China’s Influence on Western Fashion

Let’s take a look at some of the best and most popular examples of how Western designers used exoticism, borrowed from the Far East, in their collections.

chinese

Paul Poiret circa 1912 (Courtesy Collectorsweekly.com)

French designer Paul Poiret was highly influenced by Chinese fashion with his famous ‘lampshade’ dress and embroidered Chinese-inspired robe from 1912.

Fast Forward to the 21th Century

In his Fall/Winter 2004 ready-to-wear collection, Tom Ford designed his version of the Chinese cheongsam or qípáo, with added sequins and a side draped detail.

tom-ford-saint-laurent

Sequinned Chinese cheongsam by Tom Ford for Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2004 RTW collection (Photo Credit:  Vogue)

Roberto Cavalli’s Fall 2005 ready-to-wear collection showcased this silk gown with a Chinese blue and white porcelain pattern.

roerto-cavalli-chinese

Chinese porcelain-inspired satin evening dress by Roberto Cavalli Fall 2005 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Designers continued to channel China in the Fall 2011 collections of both Ralph Lauren and Naeem Khan. Khan was inspired by the book The Silk Road.

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Ralph Lauren Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

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Naeem Khan Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Far Eastern influences continued as a trend that same year as Oscar de la Renta featured ornate Chinoiserie patterns on coats and silk dresses.

oscar de la renta fall 2011

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Christian Louboutin brought Chinese inspiration to accessories, with his dragon motif pumps and flats.

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Black Pumps with dragon motif by Christian Louboutin (2014) (Image Credits: Christian Louboutin)

Metropolitan Museum of Art: China- Through the Looking Glass

The impact that Chinese aesthetics has had on Western fashion and the extent to which China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries, was explored in a show entitled: China – Through the Looking Glass, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015.

The Met Gala Opening (2015) saw celebrities getting into the spirit. Traditional talismans like dragons, yin-yang and butterflies abounded. Jennifer Lopez poses on the red carpet with this strategically placed dragon-motif gown.

jennifer-lopez

Jennifer Lopez wearing a gown with dragon motif at Met Gala 2015 (Huffington Post)

The gala was also provided a showcase for Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei, who designed Rihanna’s golden yellow gown. Pei, whose couture collection is shown during Paris Fashion Week, channels Chinese Imperialism, by utilizing rich fabrics and intricate embellished embroideries for the stars that seek out her work.

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Rihanna wearing a golden yellow embroidered gown at Met Gala 2015 designed by Guo Pei

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A dress from Guo Pei Fall-Winter 2016/17 haute couture collection (Image Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

The year 2016 was a big one for Chinese inspiration as dragon motifs were favoured by designers at Emilio Pucci, Giuseppe Zanotti and at Gucci.

emilio pucci dragon dress

Emilio Pucci dragon print silk jacket (2016) (Image Credits: Polyvore)

Giuseppe Zanotti dragon shoe

Dragon Shoe by Giuseppe Zanotti (2016)

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Details from Gucci Pre-Fall 2017 collection showing dragon motifs

Chinese zodiac signs also became a marketing opportunity for Western fashion designers as the Year of the Monkey ushered in a series of monkey-motifs that appeared on handbags, watches and on this studded jacket at Valentino.

valentino-Studded-suede-jacket

Studded suede jacket by Valentino for the Year of the Monkey (2016) (Image Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

Gucci went China crazy with this updated cheongsam that featured a floral and dragon motif in a patchwork combo from their Pre-Fall 2017 collection.

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Dress from Gucci Pre-Fall 2017 collection featuring dense floral patterns in red (Image Credits: Elle)

It appeared that Gucci just couldn’t get over ‘Chinoiserie Fever’ when they created this blue and white Chinese porcelain-inspired dress for its Cruise 2017 collection.

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Silk dress – Gucci Cruise 2017 collection featuring China porcelain print (Image Credits: Gucci)

China’s Future

China has given the Western fashion world a plethora of design inspiration and yet for a country that: comprises 19.24% of the total world population, ranks number 1 the list of countries in world population with a total of over 1.4 billion people, we have yet to see Chinese designers reach the status of a Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani or Tom Ford. However, stay tuned. We at UoF have our eyes set on a new group of Chinese designers that we think are about to change the future of fashion. Let’s face it…they have lots of inspiration to tap from.

Inspiration India – How Marco Polo Brought Us a Treasure Trove of Ideas

- - Fashion History

Ever wonder where fashion designers find inspiration? Well, wonder no more. Fashion designers don’t work in a vacuum. They find inspiration in a multitude of ways and places: through fashion forecast services, at museums, in magazines and books, on the street, at flea markets, from the music scene, in food and in nature, as a reaction to current global events and from interior design and architectural styles like art nouveau, art deco and mid-century modern.

Historical fashion is another great way to adapt and infuse something new and fresh into a collection, which brings us to our favorite source of inspiration: TRAVEL. Fashion has been inspired by international destinations throughout history. Dressing, draping and dressmaking techniques have been borrowed and exchanged so many times that sometimes it gets difficult to trace back their roots. Cultural elements also get interwoven into designers’ inspiration. Once Marco Polo opened the Silk Route in 1269, he not only initiated trade between the Mediterranean countries and the Middle, South and Far East, but also inspired the borrowing and cross-pollinating of cultural elements.

UoF’s new blog series will explore various cultures that continue to have a profound effect on fashion, beginning with:

India

Designers in the western world love turning to the exoticism of the Far East when looking for inspiration. India is one of the countries. With its rich history and diverse culture, India has turned muse for many of the biggest names in fashion and continues to do so today.

Let’s Begin

Paisley is one of the earliest examples of an inspiration remix and came to the west by way of the cashmere goods trade, from the Vale of Kashmir, down to India, and then to Europe. The teardrop-shaped motif, known in India as Buti, is an ancient Indian design that is still used today in Indian sarees and in the west in textiles for bridalwear, dresses, blouses, neck-ties, tunics and in home décor textiles and rugs. The name ‘paisley’ was given to the motif when imitation Indian shawls were copied and manufactured in Paisley, Scotland during the early 19th century.

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Indian Kanjeevaram saree with buti motif (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

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Victorian Antique Kashmir Hand Woven Pieced Paisley Shawl 1800s
(Image Credit: www.1860-1960.com)

By the 20th century, international travel increased and fashion designers found inspiration, especially in South Asia. An example in American pop-culture, is a scene from the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which Audrey Hepburn, who was taking a bath, had to improvise a saree-inspired gown on the spot using a bedsheet.

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Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s wearing saree-inspired bedsheet gown (Image Credit: mongolcom.mn)

In the contemporary fashion arena, fashion houses like Hermès, Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier have designed whole collections inspired by Indian fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2007 couture collection featured satin tunics, bejeweled turbans and even a sherwani (knee-length coat buttoning to the neck) for the bridegroom’s ‘maharaja’ look.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2007 couture collection

 

Hermès Spring Summer 2008 women’s ready-to-wear collection took inspiration from Indian ethnic menswear with adaptations of Nehru jackets, churidar pants and bundhgalas. The collection featured saree-gowns and tunics, replete with turban-inspired headgear in metallic shades.

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Hermès Spring Summer 2008 RTW collection

Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection, popularly known as their Bombay-Paris Collection, was also a tribute to India and inspired by Indian maharajas’ and maharanis’ opulent, excessive outfits, jewelry and adornments. The fashion show featured Nehru-collared dresses with embroidered hems, tunics worn over leggings and saree-drapes.

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Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection

Marchesa Spring 2013 collection was inspired by the vibrant Indian color palette consisting of fuchsia, peacock blue and eggplant with fine gold embroidery touches.

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Marchesa Spring 2013 collection

Christian Louboutin has taken inspiration from India more than once. Recently, the shoe-designer collaborated with Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi to create embellished and embroidered shoes for his runway show.

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Christian Louboutin embroidered shoes for Sabyasachi Fall Winter 2016 collection (Image Credit: christianlouboutin.com)

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Christian Louboutin embroidered shoes for Sabyasachi Fall Winter 2015 collection (Image Credit: christianlouboutin.com)

Many other designers have tapped India for inspiration such as, Alexander McQueen, Ellie Saab, Isabel Marant, Naeem Khan, Louis Vuitton and Vera Wang. New young designers have emerged who are also inspired by the fashion of other cultures, in an effort to bring the world together on a global basis. And with the amplitude of diversity and richness that Indian culture has to offer, much inspiration still remains to be unearthed. What’s in store for the future of Indian-inspired fashion has yet to be seen. We can only hope it’ll be even more awe-inspiring and mesmerizing than the past.