I haven't remembered to mention this before, but, in addition to blogging, I became a voluntary writer for the Fashion/Beauty section of Swallow Our Words in the summer (which is a great opportunity to develop your writing and get experience if anybody is interested!). I wanted to write an article this week about the people of fashion and their importance, focusing on a couple of my favourites. Although I only intended on writing an overview of a few paragraphs, I got a little carried away! Considering I don't upload much of my writing on here, I thought this would give the perfect opportunity to. I hope you enjoy!
Fashion is a constant force; it never sleeps in the world, and continuously progresses in every moment. Yet, whilst the industry constantly endures, the past still holds significant importance, as having directed the present progression and having an influence and inspiration on modern approaches, for the diverse street-style and fashion houses alike.
The strong-spirited Countess of Castiglione, Virginia Oldoini, for example, showed that fashion’s ability to shock and to individualise oneself has spanned over many centuries. She commissioned Pierre-Louis Pierson from 1856 to help her create 700 unique photos of herself, in order to re-create signature moments of her life through the lens, to last beyond her lifetime. Her collaboration with Pierson is one that has continued to inspire. Oldoini’s decision to direct the shots and their expressive content reflect her strong-will and independence, with the brave use of risqué poses for the era; some photographs show her ankles and feet, which was considered immoral and indecent at the time. The photographic project was a large one, which even led the extravagant Countess into serious debt, however its purpose over the centuries has made it an infinite success. Captured as the personification of fashion and as a boundary-pusher, the Countess’s triumph has lasted for over a century, and her daring approach is a monument to the bold nature of fashion and individuality.
Coco Chanel is more than a name, being a legendary figure to those in the fashion industry and to those outside it. Her intelligent and insightful approach to fashion was significant to womankind and fashion alike. Her ideas of the time were considered revolutionary, such as her decision to modify menswear to benefit women’s fashion. Her understanding of fashion was futuristic and insightful, with a genuine appreciation of how fashion was so much more than seams and materials: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Considered as the ‘Father of Haute Couture’, Charles Frederick Worth was an English fashion designer of the 1800s, who dominated Parisian fashion in the latter half of the century. After working his way up through the industry as an apprentice and assistant to textile merchants, Worth had opened his first firm with a partner in 1858. His success in France was assisted by the patronage of Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugénie. Worth’s self-making and determined self-promotion led to his being widely acknowledged as ‘the first couturier’. With his lavish designs, which often took historical influences, Worth combined past trends with those of the current period – something that had been significant in fashion’s progress up to the present day. Although the House of Worth concluded in 1952 with the retirement of Worth’s great-grandson, his fashion dynasty remains as a legend.
The contributors to today’s fashion are countless. From the choice of street-style clothes, to the fashion houses’ designs that grace the catwalk, everything takes fashion in its ceaseless direction. Rose Bertin, Bailey, Shrimpton, Mark Lebon, Elizabeth Arden, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Helena Rubenstein and Twiggy are amongst the many fashion-names in such a wide spectrum. From fashion’s household names to that person on the street who offers a unique and refreshing look, the industry is inspired and reinvented. Everyone contributes something to fashion – the people we pass on the street, the legends that inspire us still today. Fashion is everywhere. Fashion is ubiquitous.