Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Uglification of Fashion

When Yves Saint Laurent showed his Spring/Summer collection in 1971,  an uproar ensued.  YSL had had some big shoes to fill some years earlier, taking over designing for the House of Dior after the death of Christian Dior.  He had created some beautiful looks before branching off on his own, with a successful house that created the iconic Mondrian look.  By the time 1971 had come around, people were believers in the designer, who was still the youngest couturier showing in Paris.  But disaster hit with the spring collection.  One French critic called it Une Grande Farce -- pretty harsh criticism, coming from a countryman.  American papers called it "hideous," proclaiming it to be the start of the "uglification of fashion."


What set them off?  Europeans, especially the French, were upset at the fact that it was inspired by the 40s.  They felt that he was romanticing the occupation of France by Germany -- it was, after all, only 25 years or so after it had happened.  Too soon?  Think about it.  What if an American designer had been inspired by Pearl Harbor, or by the events of 9/11?  Granted, YSL had chosen an era in fashion, but the outcry showed just how emotional fashion can be.

American critics hated the clunky shoes, the over-sized revers, and even the chunkier than normal models he used.  They noted that the huge shoes - designed by Vivier -- sported platform soles, four inch heels and T-straps, which thrust the model's posture into an odd forward posture.  One fashion critic called the shoes "repellent," and said that the model's could barely walk in them.
Critics noted that younger girls could get away with his mini skirts, which were noted to be the shortest in Paris, and that they'd have fun playing dress up in the campy couture he showed.  Mature ladies?  Not so much.  They, in fact, called the entire European couture trend "suicidal," saying that the thought of the Paris designers was that they wanted to focus on the ready to wear arm of their business -- where the real money was made -- rather than the couture.

Whether this was truth or not, it was somewhat prophetic.  Some time later, YSL -- who was the first couturier to put out a ready to wear collection --  cracked under the pressure of creating 2 couture and 2 ready to wear collections a year, and handed the ready to wear off to his assistants.  It died a fairly quick death after that, and he eventually closed his couture house as well.  He died in 2008 as a result of brain cancer.

(Photo, courtesy of AspenPeak magazine.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wherein, I Fail as a Wife

Excerpts from "How to Help Your Husband Succeed, from Modern Bride Magazine, 1956:

....helping your husband to succeed at his job is an important part of being a wife....Just as your husband's personality will influence the emotional climate of your home, so will your attitudes and behavior be vitally responsible for his success on the job.

Obvious though it may seem, a man's good work depends in large measure upon his good health.  That's why a wife who is doing her part as a helpmate keeps an orderly house and provides appetitizing and nourishing meals two or three times a day.  No man who goes off to work without an adequate breakfast can put forth his best efforts.  And that's why, too, there are occasions when a wife sees to it that her husband doesn't overeat or take one drink too many if he has to go to work the next day.

Besides making a point of being understanding, wives can save their husbands' time.  A husband hard at work on his job has little time for running necessary errands so a wife who combines his shopping with ehr own performs a valuable servce and permits him the needed respite of an unrushed lunch hour.

...Once your husband has his wardrobe in order, it will be largely up to you to keep it that way.  The cleaning, the laundry, the mending of socks and the turning of shirt collars---these are your responsibilities.

The point is, quite simply: while a husband concentrates on his job, a wife can concentrate on helping him.  By keeping things where he can easily find them, by having his raingear and muffler handy when the weather threatens, by tactfully showing him when to be formal and when to wear spots clothes, a wife displays the tenderness of her concern, as well as her ambition for her mate.

Let's just say this:  I don't cook, my organizational skills are non-existent (unless you are talking about work, and then it's totally different), my cleaning skills are marginal at my husband would obviously be a dismal failure in life, and it would be all my fault.  We would probably sit around in wrinkled clothes, eat junk food, and drink too much.  And be perfectly happy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Were They Thinking?

Here's another ad from 1906.  This was an era where corsets were though to promote health, despite the pigeon breast styles that misshaped the spine.  Sure, it supported the back and bust, but at what cost?  These types of corsets make me shiver.

And notice it is "perfect for bathing" -- meaning swimming, I presume.  Can you imagine getting into the water with this on?  That is even more punishment.  And it holds the bust either high or low.  I am wondering when one would want the girls held low?  I'm wondering if something is lost in the verbiage here, and if they mean flatness as opposed to gravitational pull, because I can't imagine anyone wanting a saggy look.  Perhaps it just means high, to enhance decolletage, and low means a more natural look, like a day look where you aren't putting the girls on display.  I'm flummoxed.

Either way, I am certain that men came up with these corsets, because no woman in her right mind would subject herself to this.  But maybe that's just me.