Throughout the world, Paris, along with London, has been known as the fashion capital of the world and has been that way for hundreds of years. France first began to recognise clothing as a business at the start of the 17th century with the introduction of the mass amount of exports of clothing products.
Fashion in France was a booming business and was first noted as a heavy investment within the countries historic seams through the marvellous and grand clothing designs worn by Marie Antoinette during her life living in Paris as the wife of Louis VIII, the dauphin of France. Marie and her husband are one of the major reasons why French royalty is known for its opulence and excessiveness. France was also the first country to separate styles into seasons. Louis fascination for elaborate wigs actually created a black market for human hair.
Marie-Antoinette was very inspirational for her wealth and sense of style. “This is one of the major reasons why the French people despised her, as she seemed to have cared more about getting the latest dresses, shoes, and wigs, than feeding her people. Marie-Antoinette popularised sky-high wigs, putting feathers in her hair, and custom made dresses by designer Rose Bertin. These custom made frocks were just the beginning of the style category Haute Couture.”
One of the most disastrous financial blunders that fell upon the country in the way of fashions was actually down to a necklace diamond necklace affair which bankrupted the jewellers and leading to financial difficulties for the population of Paris. The affair started when Louis XV of France Brough his mistress du Berry a 2,000,000 ( approximately $14 million USD in 2015) necklace. It took the best jewellers in France to make the diamond and it took seven years but when the King died of smallpox and du Berry was banished from Versailles Louis XVI offered it to Marie who refused it. This left huge financial damage on the jewellers of France as no one else could afford the necklace and the ones who could afford it did not want it. After the continuous scandals, many people saw the now queen of France as a spendthrift, licentious and empty-headed foreign queen taking root in the French psyche. “As you all know, the reign of Marie Antoinette in the fashion world sadly ended when she was dethroned, put in jail, and eventually killed by French revolutionaries.’
After the French Revolution, the women of Paris started to revolt against the original and traditional garments worn such as the hug corseted dresses as usually worn by Marie Antoinette. Instead, they opted to abandon the “ornate construct of overbearing fashions of the 1700s and moved to the long flowing muslin dresses based upon classical designs of the Greeks and Romans. This new elegant style draped the figure with a flattering high Empire style waistline. The fashions of the early 1800s were not only elegant and pleasing to the eye, but were very comfortable.” (‘Fashion in the 1800s | French Fashion History’, 2019). It was during the late 18th century where the first fashion magazine was published named Journal des Dames et des Modes with included issues of hand-coloured fashion engravings. The first magazine was published in June of 1797.
Haute couture then came blooming in after the French Revolution calmed down and the bloodthirst was mostly gone. Although it originally started in the courts of Marie Antoinette due to economic breakdown within the county, it was mostly isolated to only the wealthy high profile persons. In the 19th century, Haute Couture made its come back. This was made possible to a man by the name of Charles Frederick Worth who was the founder of ‘The House of Worth’ which was the first modern couture house located in Paris. With the new opening of ‘The House of Worth,’ many other French fashion houses opened up. “Famous designers of the time included Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, and the House of Patou. It is thanks to these artists that the term fashion designer came about” (‘History of French Fashion in Paris’, 2019).
During both the World Wars fashion was put on hold due to the limited amount of resources that were needed during the war. Paris during Both WW1 and WW2 were forced to closed their fashion houses due to the rationing of fabrics and this was reflected throughout Europe during this time. After WW2 the world of fashion launched into new the world of new designers and women were ready to treat themselves to the luxuries of new endless amounts of luxury fabrics, elegant designs and designer labels. Designers such as Chanel made their comeback after closing their haute couture houses during the war. The new influx of luxury fabrics brought about new designers such as Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy who all emerged in the 1950s.
In the mid-1840s fashion of that time imitated both England and French-style sand trends. The children clothing was clothing that represented their social class and family wealth. “Sons of the wealthy wore similar clothes to adult males of the time; a frock coat, a waistcoat, an upright winged shirt collar, a necktie and in some schools, a top hat. Girls from the wealthy classes wore long two-piece outfits with waisted jackets with a pleat at the back and petticoats under the skirt, their hair in ringlets, and a bonnet with ribbons. Working-class clothing reflected their role as workers in society; women as domestic servants and men as labourers and children working doing odd jobs such as selling homegrown vegetables and fruits”. (‘1840s | My Place for teachers, 2019)
In the early 19th century there were quite a lot of changing designs that were usually seen in England and in Paris as the climates down in Australia are very different. New additions to the usual designs of clothing started to emerge such as wide brim hats and lightweight silk coats in summer.
The New Look became incredibly popular and it continued on the emphasis on women expressing their sexuality in fashion, magazines and find using the war. Unfortunately, not everyone was in agreement with the newfound freedom women had with their styles and fashion. “Government figures, military leaders and members of the clergy railed against the spread of venereal disease and women’s supposed lax sexual morality. At the same time, however, a surfeit of images and articles encouraged women to maintain their sexual allure in order to boost the morale of serving men”(‘Glamour returns to post-war Australia’, 2019).
The Lew looks focus turned to the extenuate women’s waists and busts but this trend required specific body types to pull it off which brought in the undergarment known as ‘waspies’ which was waist specific girdle which bought about corseting in the 19th century.
Before the 1850s fashion in Australia didn’t wasn’t highly noted throughout society due to the vast majority of the population being of a very poor and lower class range and also due to functionality due to the main street and current surroundings being mostly dirt and mud. Wearing fancy clothes at this stage in Australia was only left for the filthy rich who never did their own washing and barely left the comforters of their own home. During 1850 the newfound discoveries of golf within the countries soil in the area of Ballarat brought in vast amounts of immigrants and large yuan cities of supplies and luxe items such as pineapples, silks and valuables. The Victorian gold rush brought not only luxury items and vast amounts of people to the land, due to the prospect of finding gold but, also brought along the prospect of becoming wealthy. The wealth from gold hit women with the prospect of wealth and divine clothing and accessories. The prospect of wealth attracted a lot of families and women to the goldfields and living conditions improved and spoon permanent houses were built by the late 1850s. Soon trends of fashion hit the muddy streets of Ballarat with the most fashionable of clothes coming directly from France, England and the USA. By this time Ballarat had become one of the richest places in the world and the current fashion trends worn not only by women but by men as well reflected the new flux of wealth in Australia.
Despite the newfound internets in extravagant corsets, crinolines, top hats and jewellery which became all the rage, the wearing of extravagant and luxury items became more noted throughout the country it was a symbol of social status class in society.
Despite the flashing of money during this period of time, those who didn’t prosper from the gold and were poor, which is noted to be a lot of the population at this time, wore clothing of what every there could find and patch together. Power women made their clothes by hand not only for themselves but their husbands and children as well until the introduction of the sewing machine in the early 1860s. While wealthy women had their clothes tailor-made with whatever fabric or design they desired. The wealthy enjoyed luxurious amounts of fancy fabrics, silks, expensive accessories and dyed coloured fabrics all due to the booming industrial revolution. Compared to nowadays, fashion brand names weren’t really noticeable or even vented yet and had no standing of wealth and possible social class, unlike today. Instead many women especially paraded around the streets showing off their lace, tall hats, silk ribbons, and excessive amounts of gold jewellery was the way of showing off and making a point of your social status. During the time of the gold rush large pieces of gold jewellery were the fashion and trend in the 1850s in Ballarat.
In 1838 the Australian renowned department store David Jones first opened its doors on the 24th of May. It opened its doors in Sydney on try corner of George and Barrack street. In July 1948, after WW2, David jones first welcomed famous french designer Christian Dior designs. Dior had introduced the Corelle Line which re-established Paris as the centre of International style after WW2 interruptions and made the brand even more popular.
“The New Look’s emphasis on busts and waists was received rapturously. After nearly a decade of shoulder pads and short straight skirts, women around the world were hungry for the glamour and feminine luxury of Dior’s fashions.” (‘Glamour returns to post-war Australia’, 2019)
Due to the war, many recourses became rationed but as fabric, paper and the coloured film gradually became more available to more new French styles became available and brought about a focus point for thousands of Australian women. A desire to pursue and dress in the most glamorous attire was achievable after many years of rationed clothing and supplied during the war. “Following its Sydney debut, the New Look became rapidly popular in Australia, where French high fashion had been held in the highest esteem for decades. Many Australian women maintained a belief, fostered by local magazines such as the Australian Women’s Weekly, ‘in the importance of Paris as the centre of style’”(‘Glamour returns to post-war Australia’, 2019).
For in both Australia and Paris during the 1960s was a pivotal time in drastic changing clothing and celebrity icons. In Australia, the introduction of the ‘Mini Skirt’ was noted as a scandalous move but popularised by hippies and celebrity icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and the English model known as ‘Twiggy’ due to her twig-like appearance. The fashion which graced the streets of Australia was named modern fashion or ‘mod’. Mod referred to the lifestyle lived and worn by people in London, where it originally started but soon mod overtook the world speeding all over Europe such as Paris then moved to America and exploded in Australia, especially with the vats growing economy. “1960s fashion broke the social traditions of the previous decade, allowing more freedom for peoples attire. There was either ‘formal’ or ‘casual’ wear and distinct separations as to what was for women and what was for men. The 60s brought us unisex clothing, like denim jeans. Based on the successful pop music, art and fashion scene this new mod lifestyles goal was to be innovative and different. The mod fashion designs were slim-fitting, with bold featured shapes in bright and wild tones. Contrasting the browns, greys and pastel colours of the 50s. Unlike the past fashions were being mass-produced and were affordable.” (‘Fashion’, 2019).
In Paris, during the 1960s it brought to light ready-to-wear fashion. Up until this point, all fashion was standardised with most of the population wearing very similar clothing and styles continuously unless you had the wealth to support a large wardrobe. It was very normal to have between 2-3 outfits for women from the 1700s – 1950s for those in the middle to lower class section. This was all changed with the entire of the 1960s with the introduction of Prêt-à-porter which means read to wear. Clothing began to become easier to make and Manufacture in mass amounts and became a lot more affordable with the introduction of synthetic materials. Designer burin this time became to embrace the new trends and affordable materials and Parisian designer Yves Saint Laurent is heavily credited to be the driving force behind this startling trend. Parisian icons such as Brigette Bardot, Jane Birkin and Françoise hardy rose to fame during the 1960s and embraced the change in designs and fashion and promoted it throughout not only the country but throughout Europe.