Research essay – Influential Women around the World.

1000 words minimum. 12 frond – times new norman – double spacedIn your research essay, you will include some background information about your person( in the introduction or/and the first body paragraph). But mainly the essay will be about how the person you have chosen to research has made a difference. You will use the four research articles I have provided to provide example to support this essay..**THis essay must include ideas from all four sources I have provided. You may use additional articles. AND Please Cite Them at the end of the essay. **This essay will use BOTH paraphrased and quoted material from the readings – mostly paraphrased. **When referencing the articles, you must mention/give credit to the respective authors and use appropriate reporting language. You must cited the source. **Your essay will also include an introduction that includes some background information about your chosen person. You may mention her childhood and early life. THIS ESSAY IS NOT A BIOGRAPHY! FOCUS ON HOW SHE IS/WAS INFLUENTIAL. WHAT IS HER BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?WHAT MADE HER AN INFLUENTIAL WOMEN?HOW DID SHE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?WHAT DID SHE ACHIEVE IN LIFE?***MLA-STYLE “WORK CITED” ***2 noun phrase appositives, bolded and labeled***2 participial phrases, bolded and labeledSource:http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=BIC1&u=plan_csm&…
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Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013, pp. 79 – 94
The evolution and democratization of
modern fashion: from Frederick Worth
to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion
António Machuco Rosa
machuco.antonio@gmail.com
Departamento de Jornalismo e Ciências da Comunicação, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto
Abstract
This article examines how the haute couture associated with fashion evolved from the initial creation of Frederik Worth to Karl Lagerfeld. The main idea is to see how the manifestations of
the desire to display himself are grounded on differentiation strategies that are always positioned
themselves as an anti-fashion critic of previous fashions. In particular, it will be analyzed three
moments in the process of democratization of fashion: the chic haute couture created by Coco
Chanel in opposition to Paul Poiret conspicuous and ostentatious fashion, the Yves Saint Laurent
strategy that indiferentiates gender, and the fast-fashion strategy developed by Karl Lagerfeld in
his collection for H & M. From these three cases, and based on theories Thornstein Veblen and
George Simmel, it will be presented a theoretical model that allows us to understand the overall
dynamics of fashion change.
Keywords
Fashion, Coco Chanel., Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, George Simmel
1. Introduction
It is now generally accepted that the evolution of fashion in the twentieth century
can be described as a process of “democratization”. This was the view established by
Gilles Lipovetsky, who understood this democratization as one of the various manifestations of the advancement of the principle of individuality (Lipovetsky, 1987). To that
extent, the French sociologist was repeating some of the deepest intuitions of Alexis de
Tocqueville (Tocqueville, 1961 [1840]), who will also be one of the guides for the analysis
of contemporary fashion in this article. Besides illustrating what Tocqueville called the
principle of “equality of conditions”, we will show that the historical evolution of changes
in fashion is guided by a principle of differentiation, which consists in the reality of antifashion as a form displaying a certain kind of higher existence. Anti-fashion is initially
presented as an adherence to a principle of functional comfort that implicitly criticizes
the artificiality and ostentation of previous fashion. The ideas of Thorstein Veblen (Veblen, 1994 [1899]) and Georg Simmel (Simmel, 1904) are also guides to the historical
analysis that will be carried out in this article. These ideas will link chic fashion with the
principle of functionality and comfort.
The first section of the article covers the period from Frederick Worth to Coco Chanel,
and will show that functionality in the chic style of Chanel was a way of achieving a higher
form of distinction. The second section discusses the work of Yves Saint Laurent, when
a real democratization of fashion really started to take place. The third section examines
Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013
The evolution and democratization of modern fashion: from Frederick Worth to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion . António Machuco Rosa
the concept of fast fashion as proposed in the collection that Karl Lagerfeld developed for
H&M, which showed the German couturier dramatically accentuating the trend towards
deinstitutionalization and indifferentiation in fashion that was already present in the first
ready-to-wear collections. Finally, the conclusion will give a more systematic presentation of the theoretical framework that, based on the works of Tocqueville, Veblen and
Simmel, has guided the analysis of the historical trajectory from institutionalized fashion
and haute couture to fast fashion.
2. The birth of haute couture
It was in the mid-nineteenth century that the modern idea of a specific market of
luxury goods associated with haute couture was born. Clothing began to abandon the
display that had marked the symbolic order of stratified bodies typical of the pre-modern
societies of the Ancien Regime, and began to express the social mobility characterized
by the spread of economic activity in the market and the corresponding rise of the bourgeoisie. From this time, luxury clothing was linked to success in business and to the
commercial idea of meritocracy (Perrot, 1998). The name that can represent the social
change taking place at this time is that of Frederick Worth (1825-1895).1 Worth is generally
considered to be the founder of haute couture. His name also represents the empowerment of the couturier. In fact, in the court societies of the Ancien Regime the dressmakers were among the many individuals whose occupation gave them a fixed place under
the control of the lord who was their patron. This is a situation that would be reversed
with Worth. There started to be a growing number of individuals who went to the fashion designer’s studio, and the fashion designer decided on the dress each one of them
should wear (Sicard, 2010). While traditionally the tailor was summoned to a noble residence, the new customer attended the atelier of the haute couture tailor, in places like
Place Vendôme and Rue Saint Honoré in Paris, which are still centres of world attraction
today (Grumbach, 2008).
That was the expression of a social dynamics which resulted in the reversal of positions: during the nineteenth century, the position of the new haute couture fashion
designer changed from one of inferiority to one of superiority, while the lord became the
customer. The one who was the client/servant became the master, and the one who was
the lord became the client. An episode emblematic of this change of position was when
Worth was able to persuade the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, to wear what
he dictated. It may be said that, with regard to haute couture clothing, Worth became
king; he became the creator, the original artist whose fame attracted a growing number
of clients from the most prominent classes, nobles and bourgeois, all increasingly indiscriminately mixed. He was the first to use human mannequins, parading models to his
customers, which actually simulated how his customers could be looked at by others
(cf. Kent, 2003). This was a big innovation that shows how the imitation involved in the
relationship between model and those copying the model became a structural feature of
1
See Kent (2003) for an overview of the work of Worth.
80
Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013
The evolution and democratization of modern fashion: from Frederick Worth to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion . António Machuco Rosa
modern fashion. The fashion associated with luxury ceased to be something that, as had
happened in the societies of the Ancien Regime, an individual was determined to show
— something based on a standard external to the individual — and became to do with
copying another individual who appears as a model.2 As will be seen, this is a historical
process in which, potentially, an ever-wider range of individuals can themselves aspire,
by copying the mannequin, to become models for others. This is literally present in the
relationships in a mannequin parade in front of the clientele: each client becomes a kind
of mannequin when he copies a mannequin. But there is, however, still some externality: the final seal of authenticity of the model is provided by the haute couture fashion
designers, beginning with Worth, who went on to sign their creations, thus giving rise
to the concept of luxury brand. This artist’s role as certifier of haute couture quality has
continued to grow until today, and it is still present, as will be seen below, in fast fashion.
The development of fashion during the nineteenth century expressed a new dynamic. In an era in which social status became mobile, the possession and display of
objects of luxury à la mode became a way of expressing a new social status. This social
condition no longer preceded the showing of clothing to others. It was the possession of
the objects which, in itself, allowed one to acquire a new status, a new being that could
define bourgeois wealth as an eminently superior existence. The modern fashion became
an aspiration; it ceased to be the exhibition of a pre-existent being and now represented
the capture of a being and denoted a new social status. This means that any individual
could potentially become the representative of a mobility that is distinguished by fashion. As Jean-Noel Kapferer says, “the fashion associated with luxury emerged during the
nineteenth century as a way to acquire a superior identity that distinguishes it from the
others” (Kapferer & Bastien, 2009: 78).
Fashion continued its historical trajectory with the appearance, especially after the
First World War, of several French Maisons, like those of Lanvin, Chanel and Patou, all
based in Paris. In a sense, haute couture represented the institutionalization of fashion.
The Maisons began releasing collections exactly twice a year, framing fashion as changing
fashion within an institutionalized structure. Simultaneously, the haute couture houses
positioned themselves as brands associated with luxury, and were always seen as one of
the ways to access personal distinction and admiration from others. In general, they increasingly did away with traditional forms of ostentation, passing progressively on to display models showing simple and sober lines, relying on blouses, trousers and pullovers
devoid of traditional ornaments and in which comfort is not neglected (cf. Lipovetsky,
1987). As one of the great couturiers of the time, Lucien Lelong, said, “the aesthetic of
the period between the two world wars was characterized by (…), (1), the search for congenital simplicity, (2), the return to natural lines of the body” (quoted in Rouff, 1946: 118).
In fashion, as established by the early twentieth century, there is an association
between distinction and comfort or functionality. This association began in the nineteenth century, when a dual trend in fashion emerged. On the one hand, fashion was
See (Berry,1993) for the transition from luxury as an exterior norm imposed on the social classes of the Ancien Regime to
modern luxury as an individual desire.
2
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Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013
The evolution and democratization of modern fashion: from Frederick Worth to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion . António Machuco Rosa
combined with traditional luxury, displaying superfluous objects intended to distinguish
their wearer in a conspicuous way, and on the other hand, fashion became a way of
dressing that was increasingly associated with privacy, comfort and well-being (Perrot,
1998). This search for functional comfort does not preclude the symbolic manifestations
of distinction and material or existential superiority. There is a natural affinity between
comfort and distinction, as became clear when Coco Chanel created clothing that was, at
the same time, sober, discreet, convenient and chic.
Figure 1. On the left, a model by Paul Poiret (about 1913). On the right,
the little black dress designed by Coco Chanel (1926).
The fashion revolution created by Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, especially during the
1920s, consisted in the final break with the ostensibly conspicuous luxury as displayed by
more traditional fashion. The conspicuous still appeared in a couturier who was a contemporary of Chanel, Paul Poiret, with his opulent, sophisticated, wide and long dresses,
made from luxurious materials like satin (cf. Figure 1). In contrast, Coco Chanel often
resorted to less noble materials like jersey, seeking above all the simplicity of the cut
that facilitated agile body movements. For example, one of her most famous creations is
the little black dress, with its angular lines entirely different from traditional forms that
disguised the natural lines of the female body. The very use of black was a revolution in
the tradition of haute couture where only brighter colours were usually admitted. The
little black dress was a great symbol of the movement called garçonette, a female emancipation movement which, in the hands of a designer such as Chanel, was a moment in
a fundamental trend: the trend towards androgyny that is marked by indifferentiation
between the masculine and the feminine. As pointed out by Edmonde Charles-Roux,
“the adoption of male attire for female use was the fundamental principle of the art of
Chanel” (Charles-Roux, 1974: 78). This was perhaps the first instance of a lack of gender
differentiation, whose importance we will also see in the work of Yves Saint Laurent. It is
the masculinization of females, which is present in many outfits with a sporting inspiration that were designed by Coco Chanel. This principle was linked to the aim of “demonstrating that the practical and everyday could be the source of a high style, until then
invariably rooted in luxury and the exotic” (Chaney, 2011: 107). Functional comfort and
distinctive style are therefore not opposed, and probably it was the association between
these two aspects that has given much historical importance to the work of Coco Chanel.
82
Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013
The evolution and democratization of modern fashion: from Frederick Worth to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion . António Machuco Rosa
This association became one of the dominant features of the evolution of fashion in the
twentieth century.
It is necessary to have a better understanding of why functional comfort can be a
mark of a distinct personal identity. As noted, the pursuit of simplicity by Chanel consisted in the refusal of the opulent, elaborate and ornate clothing characteristic of more
traditional haute couture. What her customers sought was “a visible quality of simplicity and chic without parallel” (Chaney, 2011: 125). By using less noble materials, and
making the models resemble common people, Chanel could create a maximum form
of distinction that is precisely a form with no distinction: her creations are opposed to
the conspicuous and ostentatious clothing that characterized earlier fashion. Like the
nineteenth-century dandies, whose strategy Chanel copied (Vinken, 2005: 22), the use
of simple models, in whom the trained eye immediately recognizes status and style,
is a form that does not ostensibly distinguish but is in reality a form of higher distinction, calling for everyone’s attention by, ostensibly, not calling for attention. With Chanel,
distinction becomes the chic distinction that is no longer the distinction present in the
luxury designs created by Paul Poiret but is rooted in simplicity and functionality. Stated
more precisely, it is the contrast between the designs created by Chanel and Paul Poiret
which leads one to consider the latter as conspicuous and ostentatious. The Chanel
designs were different, distinct in both senses of the word: their distinction resided precisely, through its simplicity, in their distinction from traditional fashion. The fashion
inaugurated by Chanel “was a style that ridiculed fashion, a nihilistic fashion that was an
anti-fashion” (Wilson, 1985: 41), thus inaugurating the modern movement in fashion as
a turning against the previous fashion. Beginning with Coco Chanel, this movement will
always entail that which is destined to become a new fashion being initially presented as
an anti-fashion, as a critique of fashion. This strategy usually highlights the functionality
and comfort of clothing, valuing the individual autonomy of women, to the detriment of
earlier fashion which, given the simplicity and naturalness of the proposed new fashion,
finally emerges as artificial and inauthentic. As we will see again below, this strategy of
anti-fashion that denounces the artificiality of fashion is a new and higher form of chic
distinction that creates new fashions.
Figure 2. A chic model sportswear designed by Jean Patou in 1927.
83
Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013
The evolution and democratization of modern fashion: from Frederick Worth to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion . António Machuco Rosa
The display of chic fashion disguised by the functional comfort of a garment naturally tailored to the body became a dominant feature of the Maisons in the 1920s. Like
Chanel, Maison Patou launched sports-inspired collections and sportswear, which also
became synonymous with chic distinction (cf. Figure 2). The association between distinction and functionality was highlighted by Jean Patou himself:
My models are designed for the practice of sport. I want them to be nice to
look at when being used, and that they allow great freedom of movement.
(Quoted in Lipovetsky, 1987: 86)
This was comfortable functional clothing but clothing that gave distinction. With
the advance of the twentieth century, and in a movement that has continued until today,
simple and comfortable clothing that also gives a distinct individual identity itself became a generalized fashion.
The fashion houses created in the early decades of the twentieth century also began
the process that can roughly be called the “democratization of luxury” or the “democratization of fashion” (Lipovetsky, 1987). The American magazine Vogue even compared a
piece like a Chanel little black dress with the new mass production of Ford automobiles,
and Marcel Rouff later wrote that the democratization of women’s clothing followed the
democratization of the automobile (Rouff, 1946). The comparison was no exaggeration,
because, in the same way that cars have become an aspiration for a growing number of
individuals, the Chanel style was no longer totally inaccessible, becoming an aspiration,
even if one that was never fully realized, for an increasing number of women. The new
social reality was well summarized by Paul Poiret in the final phase of his career:
There should be as many models as there are women. (Poiret, 1974 [1930]:
109)
The phrase reveals the individualism that underlies the woman who shows herself
through the couture that happens to be fashionable. Above all, it also reveals a tension
peculiar to modern societies. Any woman should be able to access the position of a
model, a model for other women who will copy her style and, through clothing, want to
be what she is – that is, who wish to capture her being. However, this situation is logically
impossible to realize because if there are models there must be followers of these models and therefore all women cannot, simultaneously, be models. Nevertheless, Poiret’s
phrase describes a situation in which, potentially and over time, any woman can be a
model, and so can be admired by other women. But given the fact that the model position is only potentially available, and therefore can never become fully realized, the ideal
described by Poiret can never fully be achieved. The consequence of this gap between the
ideal and the real is a ceaseless movement of new fashions caused by the frustration of
never completely being a model.
84
Comunicação e Sociedade, vol. 24, 2013
The evolution and democratization of modern fashion: from Frederick Worth to Karl Lagerfeld’s fast fashion . António Machuco Rosa
3. The democratization of fashion: Yves Saint Laurent
In the context of the fashion trends of haute couture that emerged in the 1920s,
typified by names like Chanel and Patou, it has previously been possible to refer to the
“democratization of fashion”. This democratization movement was always contemporary with the social movement towards the equality of conditions, in the theory of Alexis
de Tocqueville (Tocqueville, 1961 [1840]). The equality of conditions is a state based on a
social normative principle according to which any individual can, over time, come to occupy any social position. The equality of conditions does not define any political regime
or any real social state that has been fully achieved, but rather a new social norm according to which the positions of indi …
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