Sunday, September 2, 2007

la garconnes

although the sixties' youth quake remains without a doubt the movement that has had the most impact on the way women dress today, it was not the only force to have had a major influence on modern fashion. there was of course dior's "new look" the designer debuted in 1947, balenciaga's architectural silhouettes, vivienne westwood's punk aesthetic, and even the japanese invasion of the paris catwalks of the early 80's. however, none of these movements could have been possible without the early pioneers that freed the woman from the corset and eventually led to her own sexual liberation. when europe finally felt free from the horrors of the first world war, the climate and the mood of the continent changed. thanks to the modern designs of paul poiret, women took advantage of the movement that was offered to them by poiret's liberating designs. around this time, the woman who would forever change the way women dress, coco chanel, transformed mundane fabrics and costumes and made them resolutely modern. in her hands, humble jersey and athletic influenced clothes became extremely feminine and luxuriously craved. she adapted the men's wardrobe into her own, wearing pants and using traditional menswear fabrics like wools and tweeds into her wardrobe and made them acceptable as feminine attire. at around this time, it was only the most fashionable risk takers that adhered to these designs. it wasn't until the scandalous release of monique lerbier's notorious novel la garconne was released that women from the 20's finally found a heroine that they could finally aspire to be. to respond to their new found sexual freedom, women adapted the most extreme opposite to the highly elaborate, extremely feminine look of the belle epoque era before the war. for the first time, women started cutting their hair short, as influenced by the movie star clara bow. the hemline, which have never so far rose above the ankle was now hovering dangerously high just below the knee. to further achieve a more unwomanly appearance, women started to strap down their breast and wear looser clothes, with the major silhouette being long and lean with the waist considerably dropped below its natural position. chanel, lanvin, patou and vionnet championed these androgynous looks which became highly decorated with the coming of the highly influential ballet russes, the emerging avant garde schools such as the fauvs, cubists and italian futurists, jazz, literature, and the organization of the exposition des arts decoratifs (which would be later know as art deco)that would use fashion as a tool and a medium to further extend their artistic ideas. even more so than the sixties, the twenties was brimming with new ideas and philosophies. the ironies of the decade saw women playing down their physical femininity but at the same time enjoying the sensual experience their sexuality affords them. the idea of the "vamp" would be born in this decade. women who used their sexuality to get what they want and are unapologetic and machiavellian about it. the roaring twenties roared loudly for a decade until it was abruptly silenced by the great depression of 1929, bringing with it an end of an era, but an era whose exuberance still continues to inspire decade after decade later.

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