The first ever fashion designer, who wasn’t just a dressmaker, was Charles Frederick Worth(1986-1985). Before the former draper set up his maison de couture (fashion house) in Paris, clothing design and creation was handled by largely anonymous tailors and seamstresses, and high fashion was dictated mainly from styles worn at royal courts around Europe. Worth’s success was such that he was able to dictate to his costumers what they should wear.
Charles Frederick Worth
Charles Frederick Worth
Throughout the 20th century, particularly all high fashion originated in Paris and to much lesser extend from London. Fashion magazines sent editors from around the world to Paris fashion shows. Department stores sent buyers to Paris fashion shows to purchase garments for copying and openly stole the style lines and trim details of others. Both made-to-measure salons and ready-to-wear department stores featured the latest Paris trends, adapted to the stores assumptions about the lifestyles and pocket books of their targeted customers. In the early 20th century the division between Haute Couture and ready-to-wear styles was not as sharp as it is today. The two separate modes of production were still far from being competitors and they often co-existed in houses where the seamstresses moved freely between made-to-measure and ready-made.
At the start of the 20th century fashion magazines began to include photographs and became even more influential than in the coming future. In cities around the world these magazines were greatly sought-after by the fashionable people seeking the latest fashion trends and had a profound effect on public taste and what people were going to wear. Talented illustrators – among them the most famous Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape, Erté, and George Barbier – drew exquisite fashion illustrations for these publications, which covered the most recent developments in fashion and beauty. Perhaps the most famous of these magazines was La Gazette du Bon Ton, which was founded in 1912 by Lucien Vogel and regularly published until 1925.
La Gazette du Bon Ton
This era in fashion was called Belle Époque (as this era was called by the French). The outfits of this decade were strikingly similar to the outfits designed by Charles Worth. By the end of 19th century, the horizons of the fashion industry had generally broadened, partly due to the more stable and independent lifestyle many well-off women were beginning to adopt and the practical clothes they wanted to wear to fit their lifestyles. However with all this progress in the fashionable world, the fashions of the La Belle Époque still retained the elaborate, upholstered, hourglass-shaped style of the 19th century. No fashionable lady could (or would) yet dress or undress her without the assistance of a third-party. The curvaceous S-Bend silhouette dominated fashion up until around 1908. The S-Bend corset was very tightly laced at the waist which forced the hips way back and the drooping mono bosom was thrust forward in a pouter pigeon effect creating an S shape figure.
The constant need for radical change in fashion, which is now essential for the survival of modern fashion within the present system, was still literally unthinkable. The only differences from one season to the next was the use of different trimmings or introduction some innovative fabrics. Toward the end of the decade the fashionable silhouette gradually started to become more straight and slim, partly due to Paul Poiret‘s high-waisted, shorter-skirted Directoire line of clothes that became available to the public.
The Maison Redfern was the first fashion house to offer women a tailored suit based directly on its male counterpart and the extremely practical and soberly elegant garment soon became an indispensable part of the wardrobe of any well-dressed woman of that time.
Fashionable woman wearing a man’s inspired suit
HAIR STYLES AND HATS
Another indispensable part of the outfit of the well-dressed woman was the designer hat, it was a must. In fact hats or head pieces were always worn by women throughout centuries at all times
Hats at the time of 1900’s were either tiny little confections that perched on top of the head, or large and wide-brimmed, trimmed with flowers, ribbons, feathers and occasionally complete with stuffed birds (male hummingbirds for those who could afford them). Caroline Reboux, Legroux, and E. Lewis were the most sought-after hat designers of that time. Parasols were still used as decorative accessories and in the summer they dripped with lace and added to the overall elaborate prettiness. Large hats were worn with evening wear.
Masses of wavy hair were fashionable, swept up to the top of the head (if necessary, over horsehair pads called “rats”) and gathered into a knot.
Hair Styles of 1900’s
By the end of the decade, hats had smaller drooping brims that shaded the face and deep crowns, and the overall top-heavy effect remained.