Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fashion timeline

This is a timeline for couture/ready to wear contemporary fashion.

1858: Charles Worth establishes his haute couture fashion house in Paris

1881: Cerruti, a producer of woollen fabrics, is founded

1906: Paul Poiret opens a fashion house and is the first couturier to launch a perfume.
Guccio Gucci opens a small, family-owned leather saddlery shop

1909: Chanel opens a millinery shop, 'Chanel Modes'.

1913: "Prada Brothers" is founded by Mario Prada in Milan.

1918: Adele Fendi establishes a fur business in Rome

1920: Elsa Schiaparelli starts selling her clothes

1936: Salvatore Ferragamo moves his shoe business from the US to Florence

1938: Gucci opens a boutique in Rome

1939: Chanel couture house is closed. Boutiques sell perfume and accessories only.

1941: Textile rationing in England, silk stockings unavailable in Europe

1943: The U.S. government passes the L 85 Restrictions, limiting the use of wool and silk in clothing manufacture

1947: Dior creates "New Look"

1950: The marquis Emilio Pucci opens his couture house

1954: Cristobal Balenciaga introduces "semi-fit" dress
Chanel couture house opens again

1955: Mary Quant's boutique, Bazaar, opens on the King's Road, London

1957: Death of Christian Dior; his successor is the 21-year-old Yves Saint Laurent

1959: After work as general design assistant at Guy Laroche's, Valentino Garavani returns to Rome to open his own atelier

1962: Yves Saint Laurent opens his own couture house in Paris.

1968: Ralph Lauren creates menswear line

1975: Giorgio Armani Company is founded

1978: Miuccia Prada inherits a leather goods business from her grandfather
Gianni Versace opens first Versace boutique in Milan

1983: Karl Lagerfeld becomes Chanel's house designer

1985: Dolce and Gabbana produce their first women's line.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Occasionally the fashion blogs report Vivienne Westwood as having made some kind of controversial statement. In September a Telegraph interview with Lesley Thomas reported her as saying "There's this idea that somehow you've got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they'd get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked." This seems less a controversial statement and more an accurate judgement of consumerism. The problem that she's perceiving isn't specifically at the top of the industry, it's more prevalent on the high street in outlets like Zara and Topshop, which constantly roll out new stock. You can't go into a store, take a look and return a week later to purchase a piece of clothing after thinking about it because it's likely that the garment won't be there anymore. Westwood is identifying a problem with the way we have to shop rather than making a generalised statement.

Then in another Telegraph article by Roya Nikkhah, Westwood tells us that fashion magazines propagate racism because they use less black models than they should. While Jo Elvin makes the absurd claim that "There are fewer black women who are big enough stars to sell Glamour" (Hi Jo, I'd like to suggest Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, Ajuma Nasenyana or Yasmin Warsame) Michael Roberts who is the fashion director of Vanity Fair supports Vivienne Westwood's comments.

On the 28th October PETA stated that Vivienne Westwood was the latest designer to go fur free. I was surprised that she was still using fur, it seems a little backward to stop using fur in 2007 when all of the fashion houses have had ample opportunity to phase it out in a fashionable way over the last 20 years.

Basically there doesn't seem to be any controversy here, perhaps the controversy is that someone as political as Vivienne Westwood still using fur as an acceptable material. Ultimately she has been a designer for a long time, certainly enough time to make factual statements about the fashion industry without dressing them up in polite terms. It is a shame that the only press that seems to be giving her coverage is the Telegraph, she deserves a broader audience, if her statements seem obvious it's worth remembering that most of them deserve a level of societal focus that they are not receiving. We should not be wearing fur, there should be more black models in and on the front covers of our fashion magazines, we should buy less clothes but more that we love.

I leave you with the beautiful Ajuma Nasenyana, the only photo of her that I could find and use from google image search.