Fashion History


fashion, in dress, the prevailing mode affecting modifications in costume. Styles in Asia have been characterized by freedom from change, and ancient Greek and Roman dress preserved the same flowing lines for centuries. Fashion in dress and interior decoration may be said to have originated in Europe about the 14th cent. New styles were set by monarchs and prominent personages and were spread by travelers, by descriptions in letters, and, in costume, by the exchange of the fashion doll. The first fashion magazine is thought to have originated c.1586 in Frankfurt, Germany; it was widely imitated, gradually superseding fashion dolls. Godey's Lady's Book, established in the United States in 1830, remained popular for decades. In interior decoration the influence of designers, such as Chippendale, Sheraton, and Robert and James Adam, was apparent in the 18th cent., but in costume the only influential designer at that period was Rose Bertin, milliner and dressmaker to Marie Antoinette.

In Paris—the leading arbiter of fashion since the Renaissance—the fading influence of celebrities was coincident with the rise of designer-dressmakers in the mid-19th cent. Paris haute couture has remained preeminent in setting fashions for women's dress. Designers such as Charles Frederick Worth, Coco Chanel, Lucien Lelong, Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent have had fashion houses in Paris. In the latter part of the 20th cent. such American designers as Norman Norell, Mainbocher, James Galanos, Bill Blass, and Pauline Trigère competed successfully with Parisian designers. London, in the early 19th cent., became the center for men's fashions under the leadership of Regency dandies such as Beau Brummell. In the mid-1960s, London was again for a time the center of fashion influence.

The 1970s and 80s saw the beginning of more divergent trends in fashion. This was the result of the increasing popularity of ready-to-wear collections by major designers, which made fashionable label-conscious dressing possible for the middle class. Ethnic-inspired looks and the punk style enjoyed a period of popularity. Successful clothing designers such as Ralph Lauren, Georgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo, and Geoffrey Beene widened their design horizons, licensed their names, and put their distinctive marks on objects ranging from furniture to cars, fabric, and perfumes. The look of luxuriance that emerged in the 1980s was countered in the 1990s with the production of classic understated clothes. Fashions are adapted for mass production by the garment industries of New York, Los Angeles, and other cities.


See F. C. C. Boucher, 20,000 Years of Fashion (tr. 1967); R. Lynam, An Illustrated History of the Great Paris Designers and Their Creations (1972); J. A. Black and M. Garland, A History of Fashion (1980); M. and A. Batterberry, Fashion: The Mirror of History, (1982); J. Laver, Costume and Fashion: A Concise History (1982); M. Tranquillo, Styles of Fashion (1984); A. Hollander, Sex and Suits (1994); Editors of Phaidon Press, The Fashion Book (1998); T. Agins, The End of Fashion: The Mass Marketing of the Clothing Business (1999); B. Cosgrave, ed., Sample: Cuttings from Contemporary Fashion (2005); V. Steele, ed., Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (2005); C. Wilcox, ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947–57 (2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Fashion History: Selected full-text books and articles

The Rise of Fashion: A Reader
Daniel Leonhard Purdy.
University of Minnesota Press, 2004
As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising
Daniel Delis Hill.
Texas Tech University Press, 2004
Fashion Foundations: Early Writings on Fashion and Dress
Kim K. P. Johnson; Susan J. Torntore; Joanne B. Eicher.
Berg, 2003
The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America
Kate Haulman.
University of North Carolina Press, 2011
The Englishness of English Dress
Christopher Breward; Becky Conekin; Caroline Cox.
Berg, 2002
Reforming Women's Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health, and Art
Patricia A. Cunningham.
Kent State University Press, 2003
Wedding Dress across Cultures
Helen Bradley Foster; Donald Clay Johnson.
Berg, 2003
Dressing the Elite: Clothes in Early Modern England
Susan Vincent.
Berg, 2003
The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion
Yuniya Kawamura.
Berg, 2004
Pantaloons and Power: Nineteenth-Century Dress Reform in the United States
Galye V. Fischer.
Kent State University Press, 2001
Women's Shoes in America, 1795-1930
Nancy E. Rexford.
Kent State University Press, 2000
Reconstructing Italian Fashion: America and the Development of the Italian Fashion Industry
Nicola White.
Berg, 2000
Fashion under Fascism: Beyond the Black Shirt
Eugenia Paulicelli.
Berg, 2004
Beauty in Exile: The Artists, Models, and Nobility Who Fled the Russian Revolution and Influenced the World of Fashion
Aleksandre Vassiliev; Antonina W. Bouis; Anya Kucharev.
Harry N. Abrams, 2000
East & West: Textiles and Fashion in Early Modern Europe
Lemire, Beverly; iello, Giorgio.
Journal of Social History, Vol. 41, No. 4, Summer 2008
Dress in Mediaeval France
Joan Evans.
Clarendon Press, 1952
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