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Nancy Deihl

British couture firm known for fine tailoring. Founded in 1710 by James Creed, the house was operated by six generations of the Creed family. Over the course of two and a half centuries, Creed grew from a small tailor’s shop into a respected couture house, offering women the fine materials, technical finesse and prestige associated with bespoke menswear. The same family established a renowned fragrance company that continues in operation as the House of Creed, under the direction of Olivier Henry Creed (b 1943).

For almost 150 years, Creed was located solely in London, by the 1820s at 33 Conduit Street, where its clientele appreciated the traditional styling and impeccable workmanship of the firm. As the restrained elegance associated with English style grew in popularity in the early 19th century, Creed gained a more international following. Many important and memorable figures of fashion, including Alfred, Comte d’Orsay (...


Kristen Shirts and Pamela Roskin

(b Bègles, ?Oct 10, 1893; d Louvecienne, Dec 31, 1989).

French milliner, active also in the USA. Daché was a milliner whose career spanned over five decades. Her success, like that of her fellow countrywoman, Coco Chanel, lay in her ability to sell her image as well as her product. Daché started her career in hats but later moved into perfumes, apparel, cosmetics and other products. She innovated the now-common practice of licensing her name to other manufacturers. Unlike the avant-garde fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, Daché produced hats that were accessible and appealed to a wide audience. Her trademark designs included floral hats, turbans and hairnets decorated with ribbons and trimmings (see fig.). Her celebrity clientele included Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers and Carmen Miranda.

Daché began her millinery career in her teens as an apprentice to the famous Parisian hat makers Suzanne Talbot and Caroline Reboux (1837–1927). At the start of the 1920s, she moved to the United States. She worked briefly as a hat salesgirl at Macy’s in New York and as a milliner in small shops; by ...


(b Venarcy, Côte-d’Or, Jan 2, 1854; d Dijon, Sept 26, 1945).

French sculptor, jeweller and furniture designer. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Dijon and then, in 1874, under François Jouffroy and Paul Dubois (ii) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He first exhibited at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français in 1876 with his bust of an architect called Belot (Dijon, Mus. B.-A.) and in 1877 he came second in the Prix de Rome. In 1879 he was awarded a second-class medal for his plaster sculpture Ismael (Châlons-sur-Marne, Mus. Mun.) and in 1881 he won a first-class medal for the marble St John the Baptist (Paris, Mus. d’Orsay). He travelled in Italy from 1882 to 1883 and later visited Spain and Morocco on a travel scholarship. In 1889 he ceased exhibiting at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français and instead exhibited at the recently established Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He worked primarily in bronze but also in ivory, silver and gold, and produced some jewellery. His sculptures were mainly inspired by religious and mythological subjects executed in a highly finished academic style (e.g. ...


Nele Bernheim

(b Kortrijk, Belgium, Dec 29, 1959)

Belgian fashion designer. Ann Demeulemeester studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp (1977-81). In 1982 she won the first-ever Gouden Spoel (Golden Spindle) award. She created the company bvba ‘32’ in 1985 with her photographer husband, Patrick Robyn, in Antwerp. Her breakthrough came with her first women’s collection as a member of the informal group known as ‘The Antwerp Six’ at London’s British Designer Show in 1987. Her first line of shoes and accessories followed in 1988. Demeulemeester established herself as a leading avant-garde independent designer with her first show in Paris in 1992. Her designs, chiefly executed in black and white, are typified by the union of contrasts such as elegant flowing drapery and sharp cuts.

Demeulemeester’s vocabulary consists of a poetic mix of modernism, sensuality and a spark of rebellion. Her game of contrasts—a sharp cut and flowing layers—demonstrates a gamut of emotions. The silhouettes she has been creating since the beginning of her career are innovative and modern and have proven to be strong enough to survive short-term trends. The coexistent subversive sobriety, uneasy romanticism, and rough finish of her creations earned her the label ‘deconstructivist’ in the early 1990s. However, her output has changed and evolved from one collection to the next with the distillation of her ideas. Demeulemeester works with a compelling sense of abstraction, often disrupting codes and playing with the notion of androgyny. She explores a silhouette in depth, in all its possibilities. Her creative process is almost scientific. Solving successive design problems, she arrives at new forms, and a collection is built that generates tension by means of contrasts. The search for the right cut, the right form, the right drape, the right proportion animates Demeulemeester’s love of transformable clothing. An intricate assemblage of ties and slits permits the perfect drape. Her garments suggest movement, even when the wearer is standing still. Trousers appear to slip off the hip; blouses slip off the shoulder; a dress is tight on one side of the body and loosely draped over the other (...


Ann Poulson

[Verginie, Jean Dimitre]

(b Alexandria, Aug 6, 1904; d Athens, Aug 2, 1970).

Greek fashion designer based in Paris. Dessès was born in Egypt to Greek parents and arrived in Paris in the 1920s to study law and diplomacy. By 1925 he had changed his mind and was employed as a designer for Maison Jane. He left Maison Jane to open his own couture house in 1937 at 37, Avenue George V, eventually moving to 17, Avenue Matignon. Dessès is best known for his silk chiffon evening gowns draped asymmetrically in a Neo-classical style.

Though Dessès was raised in Egypt, he considered Greece his native land and the influence of Greek antiquity is clearly seen in his signature draped evening gowns. In appearance they resembled garments represented in ancient sculpture, but in construction they were more closely allied to the moulded and heavily structured gowns of the 19th century, being mounted on corseted bodices and stiffened petticoats. Over this foundation he skilfully manouevered the fabric into pleats and twists, bunches and braids, occasionally releasing it into a flowing scarf. When Dessès used materials stiffer than his favourite silk chiffon, he would often incorporate similar techniques, using sunray pleating or knotting the material, sometimes gathering it at the hips to suggest paniers....


Judith O’Callaghan

(b Geelong, Victoria, Oct 9, 1931).

Australian silversmith, jeweller and designer, active in England. He trained at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, the Royal College of Art, London, and Columbia University, New York, between 1950 and 1962. Based in London from 1965, he specialized in the production of elaborately decorated wares distinguished by the extensive use of textured surfaces, filigree and gilding, frequently incorporating figurative and floral motifs. His range of products, which includes flatware, hollow-ware and jewellery, extends from large sculptural presentation pieces to such luxury novelty items as surprise eggs. He also designed the first Australian decimal coins (1965), commemorative medallions and insignia, as well as interiors and furniture. Devlin was made a freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company by special grant in 1966 and elected a liveryman in 1972. In 1980 he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George ‘for services to the art of design’ and in ...


Lourdes Font

(b Granville, Jan 21, 1905; d Montecatini, Oct 24, 1957).

French fashion designer. Dior, the creator of the ‘New Look’, is one of the most celebrated figures in the history of fashion. With his first collection, presented on 12 February 1947, Dior established a silhouette that dominated the following decade. By using the finest materials in abundance and emphasizing construction, he helped revive European luxury industries after World War II and preserve traditional crafts. For ten years, Dior presided over the largest and most successful couture house in Paris, admired for leadership in design and business management. Although it represented the uncompromising quality and exclusivity of haute couture, it was also the headquarters of an empire that included ready-to-wear collections in London and New York and boutiques in cities around the world selling fragrances and licensed products. In 1957, the fate of this empire hung in the balance when Dior suddenly died.

The son of a prosperous industrialist, Dior grew up in Paris and at Les Rhombs, the family home in Normandy. When his parents disapproved of his desire to study architecture, he reluctantly enrolled in ...


Malcolm Gee

revised by Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Paris, Feb 19, 1853; d Paris, July 17, 1929).

French couturier, patron, collector and bibliophile (see fig.). He joined his family’s clothing business in 1875 and played a central role in its development into one of the premier haute couture houses in Paris. Refined, exacting and possessed of an unerring appreciation for beauty, Doucet was an avid patron of the arts whose taste was reflected in the fashions designed under his name. He may initially have bought art for public relations purposes; however, it became the central interest in his life, partly, it seems, because the superior exercise of taste allowed him to compensate for social disappointments. Following a vogue that was already quite widespread by 1880, he built up an outstanding collection of 18th-century French art and design, which he housed in a magnificent 18th-century style hôtel in the Rue Spontini: it included Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Le Feu aux poudres (Paris, Louvre), Jean-Siméon Chardin’s House of Cards...


Franz Müller

(b Solothurn, Dec 9, 1930; d Berne, July 12, 2000).

Swiss sculptor, painter, printmaker and jewellery designer. From 1946 to 1951 he was apprenticed to a maker of stained glass while at the same time attending the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berne. He then studied at the painting school, also in Berne, run by Max von Mühlenen (1903–71). In 1955 Eggenschwiler, Peter Meier (b 1928), Konrad Vetter (b 1922) and Robert Wälti (b 1937) formed the Berner Arbeitsgemeinschaft, which operated until 1971.

Until the mid-1960s Eggenschwiler’s work was essentially Constructivist, although until 1968 he was still regarded as a stained-glass maker. His prints and paintings, as well as his sculptures, were dominated by basic geometric forms, especially the cube, as in the sculpture Stair Cubes (iron, 155×155×155 mm, 1968; Westphalia, priv. col., see 1985 exh. cat., p. 41). From the 1960s he worked with objets trouvés, collecting discarded objects made of metal, wood or other materials, as well as stones and other natural objects. He either worked on these ...


Kristen Shirts

(b Portsmouth, VA, March 3, 1940; d New York, May 30, 1986).

American fashion designer. Ellis’s sportswear designs were prime examples of the relaxed, youthful American look popularized in the 1980s (see fig.). His design signatures included natural fibres, hand knits and a casual fit. Despite a career cut short by his death at the age of 46, he built a fashion empire that included several lines of apparel as well as accessories, furs and other licenses.

Born to upper-middle-class parents, Ellis had a happy childhood. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and a brief stint in the United States Coast Guard, Ellis enrolled at New York University, earning a master’s degree in retailing. He returned to Virginia in 1963 to work as a buyer for Miller and Rhodes, a venerable department store in Richmond, VA. Assigned to work in the junior sportswear department, Ellis honed his sense of what his customers wanted and made his department the most profitable in the store. As an influential buyer, he soon began to make design suggestions to manufacturers such as John Meyer of Norwich. John Meyer executives were so impressed with Ellis’s ability to spot trends that in ...


Robert J. Belton

(b Jassy [now Iaşi], Romania, Aug 29, 1933).

Canadian sculptor, film maker, costume designer, playwright and poet of Romanian birth. His formal art training began in 1945 but in 1950 he emigrated to Israel. From 1953 he studied at the Institute of Painting and Sculpture in Tel Aviv. Etrog’s first one-man exhibition took place in 1958 and consisted of Painted Constructions, wood and canvas objects blurring the distinctions between painting and low relief (see Heinrich). In these works he tried to embody uncertainties that stemmed from his experience of Nazi aggression as a boy. The results were loosely expressionistic versions of geometric abstraction, derived in part from the work of Paul Klee.

Assisted by the painter Marcel Janco, Etrog went on a scholarship to New York, where he was inspired by Oceanic and African artefacts he saw in the collections there. This led to a preoccupation with organic abstractions, flowing totemic forms, and metaphors of growth and movement, seen in ...


A. Kenneth Snowman


(b St Petersburg, May 30, 1846; d Lausanne, Sept 24, 1920).

Russian goldsmith and Jeweller. He was descended from Huguenot stock, and his family had fled France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and had settled in eastern Germany. In the 18th century a goldsmith from Württemberg with the name of either Faberger or Fabiger settled in St Petersburg; he may have been a relative. Fabergé’s father, Gustav (Petrovitch) Fabergé (1814–72), moved c. 1830 to St Petersburg, where he served his apprenticeship as a goldsmith and became a master in 1841 with an independent workshop. In 1842 he opened a jewellery shop. Carl toured Europe between 1860 and 1864; he returned to St Petersburg as a master goldsmith and joined his father’s firm, which he took over in 1870. In 1882 his brother, Agathon Fabergé (1862–95), joined the firm.

At the beginning of his career Fabergé produced bracelets and medallions decorated with stones and enamels. He transformed the conventional jewellery business by insisting that the value of an object should reside in its craftsmanship rather than its materials. Under his direction, the firm moved away from the contemporary custom of setting large gemstones in shoddy settings and produced elaborate diamond-set pendant brooches, ribbon-knot necklaces and trelliswork bracelets. From ...


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....


Sarah Scaturro

Since the late 20th century, there have been significant changes in the ecological concerns of fashion designers, clothing manufacturers and consumers. There is a growing awareness of the limited natural resources available for clothing production and the polluting, often toxic, by-products produced in the manufacturing process. Both problems are compounded by ever-increasing rates of clothing consumption and disposal. There are several key phrases that are often used interchangeably (although there are slight distinctions) in describing fashion that attempts to address these concerns: ‘eco-fashion’, ‘sustainable fashion’, ‘fair-trade fashion’ and ‘green fashion’. There is no single answer or best practice for creating or participating in environmentally sustainable fashion; a participant in the fashion system might focus on just one aspect, seeking to make a small, but hopefully effective change to the current fashion paradigm. Although as recently as the late 1990s, environmentally minded fashion was associated with an unsophisticated, oversimplified and so-called ‘natural’ style, the early 20th century has seen a rise in sustainable clothing of high-quality fabrication and fashionable design....


Michelle Tolini Finamore and Ann Poulson

The emergence of the motion picture film as a popular form of entertainment, together with the distribution networks established by the film industry and the proliferation of purpose-built cinemas in the first few decades of the 20th century, meant that films became an important method of disseminating fashionable trends as well as an important historical source of information about contemporary fashion. As American filmmaking benefitted from the disruption caused to the European film industry by two World Wars, it rose to prominence and, through the corporate consolidation of the industry in Hollywood and the concomitant rise of the ‘studio system’, which resulted in a polished and distinctive film product, it further came to dominate the global market for cinema, making it a primary source for the study of fashion.

Michelle Tolini Finamore

In the incipient years of the film industry, there was no standard source for actors’ clothing. In any given film, clothing was derived from the actor’s own wardrobe, luxury couture salons or the studio wardrobe collections, which were increasingly overseen by professional designers. The silent era saw the film industry evolve from a small-scale form of entertainment for the working class to a more refined product aimed at middle-class audiences. This change marked the beginning of what is now known as Hollywood’s ‘golden age’. This period witnessed profound changes in audience, corporate organization and design philosophy, all of which influenced how fashion was communicated to the public....


Meghan E. Grossman

Fashion photography is the use of photography to communicate the latest trends in clothing. It acts as a representation of popular taste and is created to serve a commercial industry, yet it has also served as an avenue for change, pushing the boundaries of acceptability with innovations in style, technique, and the portrayal of fashion. Fashion photography was a democratizing force in the acceptance of photography, as it brought the new form of expression to an audience of every social level, rich or poor, urban or suburban. Via mass media, photography serves to relate changes in fashion over long distances and many cultures, primarily disseminating the styles of high fashion in Paris, Milan, or New York to the rest of the world.

Fashion photography as it exists today falls into three main categories: editorial, advertising, and documentary. In the first category, photographs are commissioned by a publication to provide the “news” in fashion to its audience. These photographs are intended to feature the best designs of the current season, without monetary compensation from the companies whose products are included. Editorial photographs are often tied together by theme or narrative, to create a coherent multi-page spread featuring several different designs. Advertising photographs are commissioned by the design house, manufacturer, or retailer to feature a product or brand identity. The company pays for the space in which the advertising photograph appears. Finally, fashion design companies often commission photographers to document their collections; these photographs can be used in-house for documentary purposes or published in the form of a catalog, which serves as additional advertising. Depending on the purpose of the assignment, the photographer may choose to feature the clothes on a model, or hide fashion pieces amongst a jumble of unrelated objects. The goal of the photographer is to elevate the clothing to its highest status, the “fashion object,” through visual cues, lighting, composition, and creativity. Photography has served to add prestige to fashionable clothes since its introduction....


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....


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....


Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Maisons-Laffitte, Sept 6, 1912; d Paris, Nov 13, 1954).

French fashion designer. Fath is considered one of the leading figures of post-war couture for his witty and youthful approach. Fath opened his house in 1937 and became an established success during World War II. After the war he emerged as a leading innovator, whose sharply cut and heavily structured designs rivalled those of Christian Dior. Fath’s career was cut short by his death in 1954 at the age of 42.

Fath was born into a family of creative individualists; his great-grandmother had been a noted dressmaker under the Second Empire and his grandfather René-Maurice Fath (1850–1922), a successful painter. Fath studied bookkeeping and business, eventually becoming a broker at the Paris Bourse while gaining the business acumen that would prove invaluable in his role as one of post-war couture’s leading designers.

Fath enrolled in classes at drama school, as well as pursuing evening courses in drawing and pattern-cutting. It was in this period that he met Geneviève Boucher, whom he would marry in ...


Clare Sauro

(b Bonito, June 1898; d Fiumetto, Aug 7, 1960).

Italian shoe designer. Ferragamo created both custom-made shoes for an illustrious private clientele and mass-produced shoes for an international market. Along with André Perugia and Roger Vivier, he is considered one of the great masters of shoe design, renowned for a distinctive blend of theatricality and comfort (see fig.).

Ferragamo was born in Bonito, a small town near Naples. He found himself drawn to shoemaking at an early age but his parents objected to such a lowly ambition. However, after seeing his dedication and nascent skills, they eventually relented. After a brief apprenticeship he opened his own shop in Naples at the age of 14, where his designs were noticed for their unusual elegance.

In 1914 Ferragamo followed his older brothers to the United States where he hoped to study the mass production of shoes. After working briefly in a Boston factory, he joined his brothers in a shoe repair shop in Santa Barbara, CA, where he began producing hand-crafted shoes for a nearby film studio. Demand for his skills increased and he soon relocated to Hollywood where his designs were sought after by both the film studios and film stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Pola Negri and Mary Pickford. Department store buyers and fashionable women soon became his customers as well. Restless for the expansion of his thriving business, Ferragamo returned to Italy in ...