The Argus hopes that this October, readers recognize the extensive and dynamic caliber of the industrial revolution. Segueing from the agricultural revolution, the G&N Section takes readers on a journey to Changshin-dong, the once bustling center of this nation’s light industry. Then, the Culture Section leads the readers halfway around the globe to look into how the industrial revolution changed the way bourgeoisie Parisians dressed. Last but not least, the T&C Section illuminates, through the feud between AC and DC, perhaps a motivational component to the development of industry: competition.
Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Gabrielle Coco Chanel: The home of designers of famous luxury brands all over the world is Paris, the city of fashion. It was not just the buildings on the streets of Paris that represented the march of time ― the French Revolution, the restoration of kings, the Industrial Revolution, the two World Wars. At those times, women’s clothing exemplified change as well. The Argus examines the fashion of the women of Paris based on art trends that had been popular in each era.
After the French Revolution : Simplification of Fashion
Before the French Revolution, fashion in the 18th century was led by “The Rose of Versailles.” The rose of Versailles is a term reminiscent of the splendid aristocratic culture of the Versailles Palace, which was attached to the ladies of Versailles at that time. Marie Antoinette is the most representative rose of Versailles, as she was a symbol of beauty who led the fashion of the day. The fashion of Marie Antoinette, called the “Marie Antoinette Look,” features colorful details such as decorations with 1 frills and 2 full skirts, exposed shoulders and low fine necks. However, the French Revolution, a civil-led revolution driven from below, had eliminated such extravagant fashion that pursued glamour and made way for neat and frugal fashion to appear.
Neoclassicism and Empire Style
Background of Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is an art trend developed in Europe at the end of the 18th century. As the full-scale excavation of Pompeii had begun since 1748, interest in ancient culture increased explosively throughout Europe. Also, from the French Revolution in 1789 to the fall of Napoleon I in 1815, it was a period when the aristocratic style was weakened and a new direction of civil society was sought. Civil society, which was based on freedom and equality, had tried to abandon the tendency of the past to show off one’s social status. This had made one’s natural appearance more important than decorative splendor that had persisted from the elite. Thus, the new art trend emerged, modeling on the classical art of ancient culture. Neoclassicism, which seeks simplicity and harmony in the costumes of ancient Greece and Rome, had begun to prevail. A straight, simple silhouette had also appeared in the costume history.
Women’s costume based on Neoclassicism
Empire-style costumes were first worn by the fashion leader of the time, Empress Josephine, during the reign of Emperor Napoleon I and subsequently became popular. A deep neckline and a narrow long skirt modeling an ancient culture were reminiscent of the costumes of ancient Greece and Rome.
Also, a slender waist, inflated skirt, and high hair, which were the major elements of the noble costume, were excluded. A long, slim silhouette appeared with regular wrinkles and a high 3 waistline that was situated above the normal waist of a person. This could emphasize the natural body line, and it gave a light and soft atmosphere to the ensemble by ruling out excessive decoration.
Romanticism and X-shaped Silhouette
Background of Romanticism
Romanticism is an art trend that took place in the mid-19th century. Romanticism sought to find ideal in the feudal society of the past. In 1815, the royal family and the nobility regained their power after Napoleon I had fallen from power. In the 1820s and thereafter, France was ruled under a monarchy from King Louis XVI to Charles X. As such, more elaborate costumes also came back to the fore to reflect status and class. Parisian bourgeoisie enjoyed the secular and colorful cultural life of the aristocratic style that was revived according to the Restoration. Romanticism began to sprout accordingly, revealing the exaggerated beauty of the body to symbolize the wealth of nobility.
Women’s costume based on Romanticism
An X-shaped silhouette style emerged in the Romanticism period as a popular form of dress in the aristocratic style. The X-shaped silhouette style is a form of extreme stress on the shoulders and hips. The typical bourgeoisie overblew her top and skirt as a way to show off her wealth, while having a tightened backing. A 4 bertha collar with white lace broadened the shoulders, and a tight corset tightened the upper body.
To inflate the skirt, women wore crinoline, a stiff or structured 5 petticoat designed to hold out a woman’s skirt. Crinoline’s width and the amount of lace and 6 shirring differed depending on wealth and status. Women wore larger crinoline and bigger lace and more shirring on the hem of the skirt to reflect their wealth. As the bourgeoisie wanted to flaunt their wealth further, the size of the crinoline grew more exaggerated. Initially in the 1850’s the form of crinoline was bell-shaped, but in the second half of that decade its bottom spread more widely like a pyramid. In the 1860s, the skirt was the largest in size, with a trimming circumference of about 9 meters.
After the Industrial Revolution : The Beginning of Belle Epoque
The early 20th century is often called “Belle Epoque.” Belle Epoque meaning “good times” in French was full of creative and passionate energy in art, culture, science and fashion. In the United States, it was an era of 7 optimism and the joy of life in every way so rich as to call it “the age of optimism.” This was a time of heightened aesthetic interest based on material affluence as Western implemented colonial policies to supply raw materials and explore markets after industrialization.
Art Nouveau and S-curve Silhouette
Background of Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an art trend that uses craftsmanship and curves as the motifs of design in contrast to the dull and uniform appearance of machines. The tendency to return to the organic life of nature avoided straight lines and pursued rhythmic lines. It borrowed curved decorations from plants such as vineyards and ivy, and used fluid forms with motifs of animals such as snakes. This trend was a backlash against the stark repressed humanity of the Industrial Revolution. Though the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century led to the development of machine civilization, social contradictions born of machine civilization arose. It was Art Nouveau that recognized that technological advancements enabled the mass production of artworks, but also that genuine art was destroyed; the movement yearned for the handicraft and medieval artisanal world, opposing machine-like forms products.
Women’s costume based on Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau pursued a naturally flowing body shape. The S-curve silhouette, where the back hip protrudes outward and the chest protrudes forward, became very popular. The curved shape of the front and rear which looks like the letter “S” showed the character of Art Nouveau, the feeling of movement of body.
It was important to put the chest forward and the rear hip back out to show the silhouette more flexibly. To this end, women used a 8 corset to pull waist tighter. To emphasize the hip further, the skirt became like a trumpet that tightens at the hip and spreads out to the ground as it descends to the bottom. To make their breasts stand out further, women sometimes put handkerchiefs or soft cloths in their tops.
Art Deco and Garconne Style
Background of Art Deco
Art Deco is an art trend that combines industrial production methods with art to pursue functional straight-line beauty. As Western society began to modernize in earnest after World War I, the mechanical and geometrical form of Art Deco emerged. Art Deco costumes used geometric patterns such as an iteration of a basic pattern, such as a zigzag, linear elements, etc. in pursuit of functionality. In addition, World War I had brought about many changes in women’s social status and ideas. As such, women's liberation movements were staged, including the demand for gender equality and suffrage. In this atmosphere, as the entry of women in public affairs became more active and women became increasingly financially independent, the Garconne style emerged.
Women’s costume based on Art Deco
Garconne style means “a boyish attire” in French. It is also called the “Flapper look” in English, which refers to outfit of the “flapper” ― young women who broke custom in search of freedom in the 1920s. The biggest characteristic of the Garconne style is the H silhouette. This silhouette, also called a “straight-box silhouette,” refers to a loose style of clothing that looks straight from shoulder to toe like a pipe. The H silhouette features flat chests and no waistline. Women did not have to tighten their backs, so they did not wear corsets. In fact, the trend was in direct contrast to the corset; women started wearing brassieres that could be strapped at each side to purposefully flatten their chests.
The length of skirts had also been shortened as women began to enter into society and pursued functional costumes. Skirts became low-waisted, with a waistline below the pelvis and at knee length. The length of the skirt was shortened to 30 to 40 centimeters from the ground in 1927 for the first time in history. As the length of the skirt became shorter, women started caring about their stockings or shoes to catch the public eye. Thus, the color and design of them became more diverse, and those objects have evolved in to a fashion item.
After the Great Depression and World War II : Perfume to Fashion
The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939, led to a return to the pre-Garconne style as women became the most vulnerable to unemployment and returned to home life. As the industries sent working women back to their homes, the Elegance style, an inactive fashion requiring traditional grace, was back in vogue. Unlike the Garconne style, the skirt length was extended again and women's breasts, waist and hip were emphasized again.
As World War II broke out in 1939 and the shortage of supplies continued, women’s skirts shortened to just below their knees, and the width of their skirts narrowed. Women also wore 9 siren suits over their daily clothes to deal with constant air strikes. The World War Ⅱ ended in 1945, and the clothing regulations that were applied during the war were abolished. People subsequently had a nostalgia for feminine fashion, and began to move away from the masculine, military look.
Pop Art & Op Art and Objet
Background of Pop Art & Optical Art
Technology, which developed rapidly after World War II, had led to the development of mass media such as printing, the film industry, LP records and television. This development of the media had led to the emergence of pop art, which was based on popular and mass culture. Pop art found its material in daily images such as popular products often used in everyday life, and also printed such images in costumes. At the same time, the Op art appeared in protest against Pop art's excessive commercialism. Op art sought only purely visual aspects. It is characterized by repeated representations of abstract patterns based on visual motion, resulting in the illusion that the pattern seems to move. This trend was manifested by the use of optical prints in clothes.
Women’s costume based on Pop Art & Op Art
As Pop art emerged, it began to introduce the common and cheap objects of mass consumption by society into its costumes. Popular movie stars and pop singers’ faces, popular cartoons such as Mickey Mouse, canned foods or other supermarket products, and scribbles were used as decorations for costumes.
Op art, however, usually applied a repeating black and white pattern in a regular configuration to the costume. Optical printing refers to a fixed pattern using square, circle and check. Optical prints used in clothes were mostly checkboard patterns and zebra patterns.
Costume of the industrial society that remains today
Traces of women’s fashion in industrial society can be also found in the 21st century. Inspired by the fashion of the past, modern designers have added their own sensibilities to create various costumes. While maintaining the framework of restoration in accordance with older fashion trends, it has achieved the transformation of tradition by adding creativity. The following pictures are examples.
“I’m not trying to do something different. I’m trying to do the same thing but in a different way.”
This is a famous quote from fashion designer Vivian Westwood, who is known as the godmother of British fashion. As she says, what goes around comes around.
Of course, retro fashion is not a reproduction of the past - it is attempting to bring back the past and reinterpret it with our own emotions today. We are constantly finding new creativity from the fashions of the past.
1. frill: a strip of fabric, lace or ribbon tightly gathered or pleated on one edge and applied to a garment
2. full skirt: wide and loose skirt
3. waistline: the line of demarcation between the upper and lower portions of a garment
4. bertha collar: a wide deep capelike collar, often of lace, usually to cover up a low neckline
5. petticoat: a type of undergarment worn under a skirt or a dress
6. shirring: two or more rows of gathers that are used to decorate parts of garments
7. optimism: a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor will be positive, favorable, and desirable
8. corset: a garment worn to hold and train the torso into a desired shape, traditionally a smaller waist or larger bottom
9. siren suit: a one-piece garment for the whole body which is easily put on or taken off, originally designed for use on the way to and in air-raid shelters.
By Kim Min-ji
Associate Editor of Culture Section