Fashion in Modern Society

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Fashion in Modern Society




1.  Introduction

•   The 19th century

•   Theme:

•   1910 - 1920's

What is fashion?

•   1930's

Who dictates fashion?

•   1940's

•   Purpose

•   The Dior Revolution

2. The history of fashion

•   Famous fashion designers

•   Prehistoric

3.  Practical part

•   Egyptian

•   Interrogation about people's attitude to fashion :

•   Minoan

a     teenagers

•   Greek and Roman

b     adults

•   Byzantine

c     old people

•   Barbarism and Carolingian

•   Analysis of answers

•   Middle Ages

4.  Resume

•   Renaissance

•   Conclusion about fashion's influence on people's lives

•   Cavalier and Baroque

•   Fashion's Role

•   Louis XIV





What is fashion?

Fashion is something we deal with everyday. Even people who say they don't care what they wear choose clothes every morning that say a lot about them and how they feel that day.

One certain thing in the fashion world is change. We are constantly being bombarded with new fashion ideas from music, videos, books, and television. Movies also have a big impact on what people wear. Ray-Ban sold more sunglasses after the movie Men In Black. Sometimes a trend is world­wide. Back in the 1950's, teenagers everywhere dressed like Elvis Presley.


Who dictates fashion?

Musicians and other cultural icons have always influenced what we're wearing, but so have political figures and royalty. Newspapers and magazines report on what Hillary Clinton wears. The recent death of Diana, the Princess of Wales, was a severe blow to the high fashion world, where her clothes were daily news.

Even folks in the 1700s pored over fashion magazines to see the latest styles. Women and dressmakers outside the French court relied on sketches to see what was going on. The famous French King Louis XIV said that fashion is a mirror. Louis himself was renowned for his style, which tended towards extravagant laces and velvets.


How does fashion influence our lives ?

What role does it play in Modern Society ?

I aim to answer these questions in my report.


The history of fashion.


Although prehistoric clothing didn't hold much style it did exist and became the beginning of fashion. The main purpose of prehistoric dress was to ward off insects, protect the body from the environment, and for warmth. There is evidence that a coarse type of fabric was woven. Apparel was merely squares of textiles fastened across the shoulders and at the waist.


The Egyptian style was also simple but held a great deal more beauty than earlier clothing. Most Egyptian clothing was merely wrapped and tied. The main article for men, although clothing was unisex, was the schenti, a wrapped loin cloth. Women wore kalasiris, long clinging skirts that started underneath the breast and went to the ankle. The Egyptians added beauty to their clothes with bright dyes and jewels. Their main fabric was sheer, woven flax (linen); flax was the principal crop along the Nile.


The Minoans lived around the same time as the Egyptians but had a completely different style of dress. The Minoans were one of the earliest cultures to show a more complex design of clothing. Waists were bound with wide belts that topped tiered skirts, flounced in rings . The bodices were cut so low that the breasts were completely exposed. Minoans used linen, wool, or blends of the two. They also used embroidarie techniques.

The Greek chiton (key-ton) was simply two rectangular pieces of fabric that were fastened at the shoulder with fibulae. Fibulae were the first safety pins. They were made from precious metal and often decorated with jewels. The chiton was usually belted at the waist, left one shoulder exposed, or the side hung open (see chiton picture). The Greeks took apart imported silk thread by thread and re- wove it into an even more beautiful material. They used the colors white, scarlet, purple, mustard yellow, indigo, and bright green.


Designer Mariano Fortuny, born 1871 and died 1949, designed dresses using the same style as the Greek chiton.

Today when one of Fortuny's designs surfaces at an auction, they start at $5,000. This shows the impact of past fashions on today's society.


Roman fashion resembles the Greek partly because Greece fell to Rome. Women wore a stola, almost identical to the chiton, which was belted at the waist and attached with fibulae. Men wore the toga, a large semi-circle made of wool. The toga was 18 feet long and 5 1/2 feet wide at its widest part. It was worn draped and wrapped with the right arm free. The right arm was the fighting arm. The folds hung in place with weights and each fold had a name. The toga identified the wearer by how it was draped. The toga was also a sign of Roman citizenship, and being stripped of it meant losing all of one's rights.


The Byzantine is one of the more unique styles of B.C. times. The Byzantines were of eastern origin and resembled the Japanese and Chinese. Their garments resembled coats. They wore straight tunics belted at the waist with scarves, and the sleeves extended to the wrists. Both men and women of the Byzantine culture wore pants under their tunics. Until this time, pants were considered to be for barbarians. The use of rich, heavy textiles was common, even their silks were thick.

Barbarism and Carolingian

The Roman Empire fell to barbarians around the 5th century. It wasn't until Charlemagne tried to bring back power equal to that of the Roman Empire that we see fashion escalate in changes. This period is known as the Barbarism and Carolingian. Charlemagne lived in a colder climate, and although he was royalty he preferred peasants' clothing; he often wrapped himself in sheep hides. Because of the cold temperatures, both rich and poor dressed in wool. Both men and women wore tunics. Underneath their tunics men wore leg coverings, while the women wore long sleeved dresses.

These early Christian people laced and tied much of their clothing. It is also believed that the beginnings of chain mail were in the Carolingian period.

Middle ages

The Middle Ages is also referred to as the Gothic Age. One of the most worn garments to this time, by both men and women, was the bliaut. The bliaut was a sleeveless pull-over that laced up the sides. The women wore bliauts over tight bodices, and the men wore theirs as armor coverings. In this period, sleeves were much wider, and capes, veils, chin straps, and head coverings were often worn. The styles of the late 1960's closely resemble the Gothic Age with the exception- of seams instead of laced and tied garments.


By the High Renaissance period, the time of the Eli2abethan Age and of Shakespeare, patterns were being experimented with and styles were changing. The waist was finally accented by boned bodices, the hips flared out, necklines dropped low, and sleeves were padded in sections all the the way down the arm. The Spanish originated farthingale was created at this time. The farthingale was thought to have been worn to hide pregnancies. Another garment that looked like a sleeveless robe was worn over dresses and formed almost a hunchback appearance because of farthingale width at the hips.

Cavalier and Baroque

The Cavaliers, living in the 17th century, wore breeches, mid-thigh length capes, and wide-brimmed hats. This look is closely associated with the "Three Musketeers". Lace was also very popular at this time. Men wore wide lace collars, lace cuffs, and lace boot cuffs. Women also wore wide lace collars on dresses with softer looks to them than those of the High Renaissance.

Louis XIV

The Cavalier styles were taken over by the wardrobe of King Louis XIV of France. King Louis was said to have adored fashion and was always superbly dressed. He would often change several times a day as well as ordering his court to do so. He demanded that his mistresses dress exquisitely and be adorned in jewels. Louis gave birth to petticoat breeches, his favorite style of men's wear. Petticoat breeches were

like a full skirt that was separated in between the legs. He added ruffles and ribbons to create a more elaborate look.

After Louis XIV, Louis XV set the beginning fashions of the 18th century at a softer look. Women's dresses sported the sacque look. The sacque style had tight sleeves to the elbow that were attached by large ruffled cuffs. A cape looking garment was attached to the back of the neck and hung to the ground like a train. Panniers could first be seen in the 18th century. Panniers were made of whalebone or cane and were a hoop worn around the waist to extend the hip area of the dress.

The 19th century

By the time of the 19th century, due to the over-emphasized width of panniers, the hoop style took over. The hoop was a much softer look. Men's pants extended to their ankles. Tails and overcoats were also born into men's fashion at this time.


Women's fashion, at the beginning of the 20th century, lost boned bodices and hoop skirts. Women's apparel became softer and loose. Dresses resembled light robes and spaghetti strap night gowns. Waist lines were either dropped or accented with wide sashes. The most notable change is the death of layers upon layers of under garments. Almost all of women's fashions from the 1910's to the 1940's were only one or two piece garments. World War I brought uniforms to nurses and postwomen. Munition workers and tram conductors wore trousers and overalls.

"Coco" Chanel's styles were first exposed in the 1920's. She was famous for her colorless jackets, sweaters, pleated skirts, long shirts, and elaborate dresses. She inspired designers like Christian Dior, who became a "fashion god" in the late 1940's.

Throughout the 10's and 20's, clothing accented slenderness. Fashions gave a peasant looking style. Many shirt designs had off-the-shoulder sleeves. The cloche, a hat that looked like an upside-down flower pot, could be seen everywhere. Women wore their hair very short and wavy.


The 30's brought a fancier look of dresses. The waist was tighter in all designs, unlike the potato sack look of the earlier decades. Most dresses had thin straps and were wrapped around the body elegantly.

Daily dress for women usually consisted of a button-up jacket, a dress shirt, and a straight knee length skirt. It was not unusual for women to wear pants at this time. Aside from wearing pants in factories, women wore them with dress shirts daily (Howell 126-170).


In the 40's fabric shortages, due to World War II, gave way to a coarse rewoven woolen fabric. Only several colors of the material were used to cut down on waste-age. The solution to this was the Utility dress. Several designs could be bought in twelve different colors to avoid plainness. After the war, men could be seen in double-breasted suit coats and straight leg suit pants (Cawethorne 40-44, 98-99).

The Dior Revolution

In 1947, Dior's designs were dubbed "the New Look" and were adored by women around the world. Dior's designs included petticoats, tight bodices, "wasp waists", and soft shoulders (shoulder pads had dominated the early 40's). With the war over and the fabric available to make Dior's creations, he just kept designing. From the time that the "New Look" came out until his death in 1957, these ten years came to be known as "the Dior Revolution" (Cawethome 106-167).


Famous fashion designers.



Founded in 1978, Versace is one of the world's leading international fashion houses. The Italian parent company of the Versace Group, Gianni Versace S.p.A., designs, markets and distributes luxury clothing, accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings under the various brands of the Versace Group. These brands include: Versace, Versus, Versace Jeans Couture, Versace Classic V2, Versace Sport, Versace Intensive, Versace Young and Palazzo Versace.

Versace's Style Department employs an exceptional group of designers and stylists who work in teams specifically dedicated to each individual line. All of these teams operate under the close supervision and guidance of Creative Director, Donatella Versace. To ensure the highest quality, all Versace products are crafted by carefully selected manufacturers. Versace collections are distributed through a network of 240 exclusive boutiques, over 150 dedicated spaces in major department stores and duty-free areas, as well as a number of selective multi-brand boutiques in 60 countries.

The Versace Group directly employs 1,500 people and provides indirect labor for an additional 5,000 worldwide.

Dolce & Gabbana

The end of the l960's.

Black things, bright embroidery, natural fabrics. Smartly and comfortable at the same time.



Gucci continues to expand its global presence by opening a number of new stores worldwide.

In September 2000, Gucci reopened its newly renovated Fifth Avenue Store - the largest Gucci Flagship store in the world.




The Chanel style, unique at the beginning of the 20th century, is still modern today.


Sassy, sexy and ultra cool, Chloe is a paradox of both feminity and romance infused with a street-cred edge. She's fun, she's flirtatious, she's at the forefront of the scene. You've seen her around, she's a girl about town.


Sated colours, ethnic motives and the naturalness of the forms.


Practical Part.


I have led interrogation of three age categories of people: teenagers, adults and pensioners. They were asked following questions :

l. How much time do you spend choosing what to wear?

2. How often do you follow trends in fashion?

3. Do you like to watch fashion magazines?

4. Do you often help other people to find their style?

5. Would you like to be a fashion designer?

6. How much time do you spend in front of the mirror?

7. When do you buy new clothes?

8. Do you prefer beauty or comfort?

9. Do you like to attract attention?

10. Is it difficult to attract people without smart clothes?

11. How often do you go to fashion shops?

12. How do you usually improve your mood?

13. Is following fashion a caprice?

14. Is it difficult for you to follow fashion?

15. Do you judge by appearance?

Analyzing the answers received during interrogation, I have made a diagram

On the basis of the diagram I have made a conclusion, that as people become older they show less interest in fashion. There are a lot of reasons for such law and the most spread ones are health, free time and money. Teenagers are more healthy and have more free time than two other categories. In most cases young people are sponsored by their parents.

Adults on the contrary have more money than younger group but they are not so healthy and free. Pensioners have much free time but little money and bad health.



Clothes separate people into groups.

Fashion is revealing. Clothes reveal what groups people are in. In high school, groups have names: "goths, skaters, preps, herbs." Styles show who you are, but they also create stereotypes and distance between groups. For instance, a businessman might look at a boy with green hair and multiple piercings as a freak and outsider. But to another person, the boy is a strict conformist. He dresses a certain way to deliver the message of rebellion and separation, but within that group, the look is uniform. Acceptance or rejection of a style is a reaction to the society we live in.

Fashion is a language which tells a story about the person who wears it. "Clothes create a wordless means of communication that we all understand," according to Katherine Hamnett, a top British fashion designer. Hamnett became popular when her T-shirts with large messages like "Choose Life" were worn by several rock bands.

"A little of what you call frippery is very necessary towards looking like the rest of the world."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Adams, May 1, 1780


There are many reasons we wear what we wear.

         Protection from cold, rain and snow: mountain climbers wear high-tech outerwear to avoid frostbite and over-exposure.

         Physical attraction: many styles are worn to inspire "chemistry."

         Emotions: we dress "up" when we're happy and "down" when we're upset.

         Religious expression: Orthodox Jewish men wear long black suits and Islamic women cover every part of their body except their eyes.

         Identification and tradition: judges wear robes, people in the military wear uniforms, brides wear long white dresses.

"The apparel oft proclaims the man."

Shakespeare, Hamlet


International Fashion Editor Cynthia Durcanin

What is fashion?

Fashion is a state of mind. A spirit, an extension of one's self. Fashion talks, it can be an understated whisper, a high-energy scream or an all knowing wink and a smile. Most of all fashion is about being comfortable with yourself, translating self-esteem into a personal style.

Why is it important?

Fashion is a means of self-expression that allows people to try on many roles in life. Whether you prefer hip-hop or Chanel-chic, fashion accommodates the chameleon in all of us. It's a way of celebrating the diversity and variety of the world in which we live. Fashion is about change which is necessary to keep life interesting. It's also a mirror of sorts on society. It's a way of measuring a mood that can be useful in many aspects, culturally, socially even psychologically. At the same time, fashion shouldn't be taken too seriously or you lose the fun of it.

How do you know what will be hot in the future?

The collections in Paris, New York and Milan, and now London, typically set the stage for the industry one year in advance. Though, I think the street is the real barometer of style. More and more designers are drawing their inspiration from life on the street. So once again, there is a link to personal style and fashion. A teenager can throw something together without thinking about it and it can trigger a new trend.

How do you choose what to wear in the morning?

It depends on my day, mood and what's clean. If I have an important meeting or presentation, I put more thought into what I will wear. But on my most days, I dress to my mood which can range from funky to retro to classical. Then again, there are days when my laundry basket dictates what I ultimately wear.

-Cynthia Durcanin works for Elle Magazine


Fashion is an endless popularity contest.

High fashion is the style of a small group of men and women with a certain taste and authority in the fashion world. People of wealth and position, buyers for major department stores, editors and writers for fashion magazines are all part of Haute Couture ("High Fashion" in French). Some of these expensive and often artistic fashions may triumph and become the fashion for the larger majority. Most stay on the runway.

Popular fashions are close to impossible to trace. No one can tell how the short skirts and boots worn by teenagers in England in 1960 made it to the runways of Paris, or how blue jeans became so popular in the U.S., or how hip-hop made it from the streets of the Bronx to the Haute Couture fashion shows of London and Milan.

It's easy to see what's popular by watching sit-coms on television: the bare mid-riffs and athletic clothes of 90210, the baggy pants of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But the direction of fashion relies on "plugged-in" individuals to react to events, and trends in music, art and books.

"In the perspective of costume history, it is plain that the dress of any given period is exactly suited to the actual climate of the time." according to James Laver, a noted English costume historian. How did bell-bottom jeans fade into the designer jeans and boots look of the 1980's into the baggy look of the 1990's? Nobody really knows.

Once identified, fashions begin to change.

As a result of my research I found the importances of fashion. Fashion is needed to keep us safe, tell us apart, express our bodies, and for our own enjoyment. Still "glossy syndrome" is a serious problem. It is one of major illnesses of the modern society. Colliding with perfect images, people aspire to change their appearance and style. They forget about truly important qualities such as individuality, mind, intelligence, etc. In fact designers create their collections to emphasize one's individuality but not to make a cult of brand name. And if you can't live without magazines or shopping, you should stop and think a little - can clothes and diets make you truly happy? Will you be an interesting person, if you look like Britney Spears?

Fashion is not a sense of life - it's just a medium for self-expression.




Yafasova Alina

10 “A” form, school №63

Novosibirsk 2004

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