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Article

Sarah Scaturro

Technology influences the physical manifestation of fashion, affecting a garment’s appearance and performance. Throughout history, changes in technology affecting the production of materials and the manufacture of garments and accessories have spurred changes in fashion design. In the 20th and 21st centuries, technology has affected not only the look of fashion, but how the fashion system works.

Much of the relationship between technology and fashion centres on textiles. Looms often determine the size and complexity of textiles. Fabric woven on a simple backstrap loom has inherently smaller widths in reference to the size of the human body, whereas fabric woven on the drawloom can be several feet wide and contain more complex weave structures, which translates into more sophisticated patterning options. The drawloom process (which requires two people—the weaver and a person who ‘draws’ up warps at specific points to create the pattern) was mechanized in the early 19th century with the invention of the jacquard loom and its punch card system. Lyons in France and Spitalfields in England were two of the most technologically advanced silk-weaving centres....

Article

Ann Poulson

Fashion illustration is a work of visual art, usually in the medium of drawing, print or watercolour painting, reproduced and published in order to disseminate fashion news (see figs 1 and 2). Before the 1670s, the dissemination of fashion depended on portraits of fashion leaders, such as van Dyck’s portraits of the members of the court of King Charles I of England, reproduced by means of engraved prints. These engraved prints were the forerunners to the fashion plate in both technique and style (see also Fashion plate and costume book. The fashion plate, which usually showed the full figure, often including a back view, was created solely to illustrate and promote the latest fashions. By the middle of the 17th century, certain artists, such as Abraham Bosse in France and Wenceslaus Hollar in England, specialized in these types of engravings.

The first fashion journal, Le Mercure Galant, combined fashion plates with descriptive text. It was published sporadically from ...

Article

Lourdes Font, Beth McMahon, Cassandra Gero, Ann Poulson, Nancy Deihl, Lourdes M. Font, Deirdre Clemente and Clare Sauro

This article defines, describes and traces the history of the major categories of Western fashion design, with an emphasis on women’s high fashion.

The term ‘underwear’ refers to several different types of garment worn under outer layers of clothing. The first type is the basic undergarment worn next to the skin, historically made of washable linen or cotton. The English term ‘linen’ and the French term ‘lingerie’ (Fr. linge: ‘linen’) are synonyms for basic undergarments. The second type of underwear is a foundation garment worn to alter the shape of the body. The term ‘understructure’ also applies to these garments, which create or support the silhouette demanded by fashion at a given time. Although at various times it has been fashionable to reveal underwear at the neckline, sleeve or hemline, both basic undergarments and the foundation garments worn over them are usually invisible under the outer layers of clothing. Finally, there is a type of lingerie identified as undress; clothing that is worn only in private situations in the home. Although not considered acceptable public attire, over time undress frequently develops into fashionable outerwear....

Article

Lourdes Font and Beth McMahon

Fashion is defined as the act or process of making or shaping. As applied to dress, (see Dress) it can be understood to mean the making or shaping of the appearance of the body by means of clothing and adornment in a way that expresses aesthetic ideals that are continually subject to change. Like dress in general, fashion is a multi-faceted cultural phenomenon and plays an important role in defining social class, gender and identity. Fashionable dress, however, is distinguished by constant and rapid changes in style, transmitted through the representation of the fashionable ideal in visual art and media as well as through the direct interaction of individual fashion leaders. The word ‘fashion’ also indicates the global system of design, production and consumption of garments and accessories that are, for a limited time, considered fashionable and thus invested with greater social value (see fig.). The fashion industry today is a global system, but it has not always existed at all places and times. This article discusses the origin and development of Western fashion....