Modernism in fashion
- Nele Bernheim
The term ‘Modernism’ is widely used, but rarely defined, to mean artistic currents responding to the social conditions of Modernity. While such applications occur in all the arts, fashion relates to these conditions in a particularly intimate way. In 1863 Charles Baudelaire defined modernity as ‘the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable’. Few creations are as ephemeral and fugitive as a fashion intended to last a single season, and yet fashion itself is constant. Thus fashion design, one of the most intrinsically ephemeral of artistic practices, could be considered a quintessentially modern art. Further, the emergence of social modernity in cities such as Paris in the mid-19th century was accompanied by the development of the structure of the modern fashion industry. The haute couture house and the department store, two economic institutions that would seem to be diametrically opposed but are actually profoundly interconnected and interdependent (...