There is one thing that always catches attention when you meet a new person – his or her appearance.
Famous English writer Oscar Wild once said: “It is only flippant people who do not judge by appearances”. In real life impressions are made up by assessing manners, walk, face and… clothes.
Speaking of fashion we mean clothes put on every day. And they are not only comfortable or necessary things from our wardrobe. They are a reflection of a person’s character and his culture. Sometimes clothes tell us of a group of people. Even a whole nation can find its reflection in clothes. I reckon, that studying the history of art just through historical artifacts, as scientists usually do, is insufficient. It’s very important to go deeper and study people’s way of thinking, for example, what they think when they dress in a certain manner, because these thoughts influence cultural and historical changes.
That’s why in my work I’d like to examine the culture of some centuries through the art of creating clothes.
Thinking about the way people used to dress I noticed the same trends or motifs emerging not only in clothes fashion but in architecture, probably in music and even in literature. It gave the idea that arts are connected and influence each other. Within one little study one can not consider every art. But connections between a couple of them can be considered. Since I am interested in clothes design and in architecture I made up my mind to get into these two arts and follow their changes, mutual influence and even dependence through historical periods.
In my paper I am trying to find out what was the foundation for fashion development, what was the bridge that joined together peculiarities and features of previous ages, and how finally the dome of the building of Fashion and Style will look like in the future.
The art of building will help me to answer these questions as architecture is the main source of inspiration for fashion designers.
Considering the above said the goal of my study is to identify the connection between fashion and architecture. The object or my work is the analysis of fashion development during several centuries.
The subject of the study is the mutual influence of architectural trends and clothes fashion trends that have interacted with each other and enriched each other for the whole time of their development.
To reach this goal I have to complete the following tasks:
to make a historical analysis of the following periods and observe historical changes in clothes fashion development:
Ancient Greek period;
Baroque and Rococo;
Classicism and Empire style;
Analyse riches of XXI century;
- to compare fashion trends with changes in European architecture through the historical periods.
The study comprises the introduction, two main parts and the conclusion.
In the introduction I explain the reasons I decided to study precisely the clothes fashion and consider mutual influence of arts like the art of clothes and the art of architecture. I also state the goal of study, its object, subject and tasks.
The main body of the paper is subdivided into two parts where I approach the main tasks of my study.
In the conclusion the results of the study are summed up.
“Costume is a growth, an evolution, and a most important, perhaps the most important, sign of the manners, customs, and mode of life of each century.”
I. Historical analysis
1.1 Ancient Greece
A calm beauty and harmony of antique building art has become a model for next centuries. The greatest achievement of the Greek architecture were temples. They were built according to special rules. Their eagle which is in ancient Greek the gable symbolized the Olympus, the home of gods. Columns of Doric, Ionic or Corinthian orders used to represent people standing between the Heaven and the Earth. Besides, temples were perfectly symmetrical and proportional. In this culture everything was grand, simple and logical. So were clothes.
The most ancient known costume looked like a heavy drapery, almost without folds. The body was hidden in the drapery. The woman’s Doric costume which was called the same name as the first known Doric columns. It was made of wool and called peplos.
Soon wool was replaced by thin linen and clothes became lighter, smarter and more graceful. Greeks didn’t have patterns, a piece of material had just been folded and looked like grooves of Ionic columns. So old-fashioned Doric peplos was substituted by Ionic chiton.
Soon Greek culture had spread to Italy, Egypt and Asia. These great cultures influenced each other and antique clothes obtained eastern elements that were brought from Egypt, China and India with their fabrics. The attire of that time can only be compared with the magnificent Corinthian order. The costume was as richly decorated as the order.
1.2 Gothic style
I suppose, Gothic style is the most striking example of connection between clothes fashion and architecture.
As the ancient fashion had reached its culmination in the Roman style, which combined Greek traditions and its own special features, the top of medieval fashion can be noticed in the union of Czech and Italian fashion headed by Burgundian dukes.
Instead of wrapping themselves up in pieces of fabrics people began to cut out clothes applying tailor’s rules. We can see that in the way they stitched sleeves to their dresses. Costume has become suitable for a particular person. Sleeves were made wider to wrists, elbows were made long with shapely corners, sometimes sleeves stretched to ground like domes of gothic cathedrals stretched to the sky.
Such elements as tall narrow towers, beautifully decorated facades, stained-glass windows are notable for vertical lines. In fashion vertical lines were also very popular. Ends of sleeves, sharp cuffs, shoes with pointed toes, special genins with veils resembled towers of medieval cathedrals.
A cloak was a very important piece of clothing. It was richly decorated with fur and belted. Thereby a person was hidden under an expensive piece of brocade.
Some people were extremely displeased with new clothes. They believed that new fashion was indecent, disgusting, unnatural and affecting. In some cases it caused insolence, in others – envy. Naturally, such feelings intensified social inequality.
Later on these appeals were reflected in laws. It was clear that new tendencies eventually would come. And they did.
Italy is known as the place where Renaissance started.
Even in medieval times Italy was one of the most cultivated European countries, where ancient traditions were still alive and took a very important place in culture. So conditions for the new style to appear were very favorable.
This style in art preferred extravagant details rather than moderate plain lines. A woman’s dress of XV century was ruffled and wide symmetrical folds decorated it and resembled the well balanced and smooth style of Renaissance buildings. Dresses were strictly divided into two parts. Italian fashion states its ideal balance between different parts of a body in proportional correlation between the upper and the lower parts of dress. These rules were similar to the rules in architecture. That’s why H. Wolrrlin, who was a Swiss art historian, while examining changes in Italian architecture, compared it exactly with a costume. He thought of architecture as of clothes in the sense that the latter was “…a kind of projection of a man and his body to the exterior of buildings”
Men wore long cloaks with big collars. They were also ruffled and long to reach the ground. These were motifs of ancient chitons developed and continued. They had their symbolic meaning, the same as before, and were worn only by respectable people: scientists, elderly people and educated people. All these people constituted a new little but very important social group which didn’t officially exist till that time.
1.4 Baroque and Rococo
A very good economic situation in Spain was a reason for Spanish court, its morals, manners and fashion to lead. And therefore, a new style of clothes was really very distinctive Spanish.
The harmonious Renaissance used to ‘respect’ the man’s body. It had never corrupted natural lines of a body. Spanish style had substituted natural lines with artificial and unnatural. We speak about man’s jackets lined and stuffed with down. They were nicknamed “goose paunch”. Women were completely lost in huge bell-shaped skirts supported by steel hoops. Fabrics were pulled tightly on them. In addition such costume was heavily decorated by goldsmiths. They were able to turn it into a treasure.
Decoration of buildings was as rich, as decoration of clothes. There was an expressive baroque in every single detail: large colonnades, the wealth of sculptures both inside and outside, complicated domes.
In XVII century the court of King Louis XIV prevailed. His absolute monarchy found its reflection in the royal fashion. Clothes were still a bit over decorated, but looked more real and natural. They were suitable for their owners. Such French costumes were more popular than Spanish, like the hall of Mirrors in Versailles was substituted with private salons.
The new age had given up the former pomposity. Its architecture tended to be simpler. It worried about comfort but not about straightness and fine location of different parts of building.
The dress also seemed to get usual, “man-like” shape. The asymmetry overthrew the obsessive accuracy. And though Rococo did not change the style greatly and we speak about it in connection with Baroque, it enriched tendencies with absolutely new value.
1.5 Classicism and Empire style
A German philosopher, J. Herder, in 1778 insisted that it’s unacceptable for women to wear skirts with hoops inside, gloves and plumes in their hair. Antique style began to be more and more popular. People sought to bring back sublime ancient ideals. Such attitude had affected fashion too.
The new style appeared in England. English elegant tastes and manners became a standard for European countries in XVIII century.
Chemise was introduced. It was a thin long linen dress fixed with a belt and decorated with frills and flounces. The cut of a dress imitated Greek chiton and peplos. Art had also started to use ancient standards, which is especially noticeable in architecture.
Classicism is a very moderate style. However, chemise got shorter by the beginning of XIX century. After 1810 ankles could be seen from under the dress. Cashmere shawls were the most attractive accessories those years, because of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, as she was indeed woman of fashion. From that period of time Classicism transformed into the Empire style. This style appeared in France during the First French Empire time. So architecture was very patriotic. It praised the Great Emperor and his commonwealth.
So both clothes and architecture looked very solemnly.
Nevertheless, some people were still fond of previous dress form and complained about folds that looked like “wet drapery”.
Man’s fashion became simpler, that was also a reason of people’s disappointment. There was the only requirement for a suit- to be elegant and well-made but not grand and luxurious as before. Soon this manner of dressing was accepted too, probably because of young men, who always used to be carried away by new ideas, whichever they were.
Then men would dress almost the same way with tailcoats, waistcoats and top hats put on. There were only fabrics and details to change.
1.6 Art Nouveau
The First World War was a great shock for millions of people. Their lives had dramatically changed. Fashion style changed too. The woman’s style transformed because of shortened skirt and short haircut. Length of a dress got shorter, its shoulders got higher. In general, all sorts of such dresses looked like uniforms. Women began to work as hard as men, they took every job and went in for sports.
The new fashion style was based on strict geometrical rules. That’s why a new kind of art – cubism had entered nearly all areas of people’s lives. Dwelling housing was a necessary and, in fact, the only direction of architecture. Concrete and cement buildings were mostly constructed for living and industry. That’s why formal clothes lost their importance for men and men gave up wearing them. A dinner jacket was preferred to a tailcoat. Sport style started to prevail in places where some years ago only a suit was accepted. Working uniforms and business style clothes emerged in everyday life.
Soon after the end of World War II new generation of designers tried to escape from resent horrors. Firstly most people did not support such positive enthusiasm. French and American women, for instance, believed that concern about well-made and fashionable clothes was unjust, because the mankind was still endangered by feminism and destitution. But in 1948 Europe and America accepted a new style called “new look” that was introduced by C.Dior. It had a romantic silhouette with a very thin waist and a frivolous skirt. Europe was more and more influenced by America. Trousers became an essential part of women’s clothes.
The world was gradually recovering from the shock. Such buildings as railway stations, banks, shops, cinemas were in great demand. Though they didn’t look in the same way as clothes did, they were also influenced by general mood. They were a great move to the style of our century.
“Art cannot be criticized because every mistake is a new creation”- said Thierry Guetta, a street artist.
II. Riches of XXI century
Inheritance accumulated and passed to modern people is gorgeous and versatile. Based on previous generations’ experience today’s fashion is moving forward without stops and breaks.
In our daily routine we usually put on something simple, comfortable and practical. Nevertheless a lot of details, that at first sight seems rather usual, in fact are things of the past. Taken from previous centuries they can today become accessories or even a part of a costume in famous designer’s collections.
However, modern art is full of its own innovations. Our generation has a lot of technical opportunities to make a dream come true. It concerns any kind of art, especially architecture. The man feels like the lord of the whole world. He has actually created a new habitat.
It is not difficult to guess, that fashion designers have followed architects. A whole day won’t be enough to name all modern elements of costumes, kinds of materials and fabrics, styles and techniques.
Fashion designers keep stating that every next change emerging in fashion is the ideal of beauty. And people always believe it. They are forced to accept new tendencies, new rules of the game. Since the moment people realized that clothes were not only to protect them from cold very little time passed and they started to pond over their aesthetic and stylistic functions. A costume became a thing via which a person could exhibit his or her ways and views.
The goal of my work was to prove that fashion indeed is a reflection of historical ideology. The source of inspiration is everything that surrounds us. People always admire the constant beauty of the nature, but architecture has overcame it. This study proved that an architect and designer have always been working and will work side by side.
I hope the mankind will never stop to develop and will manage to put people’s boldest ideas into life.
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