Research Resource: GALLICA

Gallica is an invaluable online resource with an abundance of digitized French media, including fashion magazines such as Femina and Les Modes. Most material is keyword searchable, making it incredibly easy to locate information on your favorite designer or fashion house. Another plus, many of the images are high resolution! Start your searching here: http://gallica.bnf.fr

Some fashions from the May 1925 issue of Les Modes are featured below:

View the entire magazine here: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6106446p/f1.image

 

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On this day in fashion history… May 23, 1907



Getting ready for summer travel plans? How about taking some practical traveling advice from Vogue magazine, May 23, 1907:

“Whether an outing leads seaward or beckons towards hills and mountains, whether by rail or boat, by motor or coach, dress preparations for the traveler’s comfort and enjoyment are of the first consequence practically.”[i]

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 12.02.22 PMWhen this issue was published, Vogue was a bi-weekly society magazine targeted towards a sophisticated readership of both men and women. While the magazine had a particular emphasis on fashion, it also featured articles that would appeal to both sexes, including articles on interior design, sports, travel and a regular featured entitled “The Well Dressed Man” and “As Seen by Him.” It would not be until the magazine was purchased in 1909 by publishing magnate Condé Nast, that it would be transformed into the international powerhouse of fashion news that it is today.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 11.47.21 AM
This particular issue highlights the then-fashionable S-curve silhouette created by rigid steel boned corsetry. The corset created a dramatic silhouette often referred to as the “pouter pigeon” because of how it forced the bust to protrude forward and the hips back into a dramatic “S-curve.” It is hard to imagine wearing a corset today, but in 1907 the undergarment was de rigeur, worn by any respectable woman across the social spectrum. 

Interesting highlights from this issue include a “auto veil” from Paris, made for the still nascent transportation method of automobile riding, as well as charming ensembles intended for traveling, fishing and hunting. Any ideas for your summer wardrobe?

 

[i] “What She Wears,” Vogue, May 23, 1907, 832.

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On this day in fashion history…

On this day in fashion history, May 9, 1912, the first issue of poet Pierre Corrard’s luxury fashion almanac Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui (Fashion and manners of today) was published.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

Corrard was inspired to create the publication after observing three fashionable women on the beach: “All three were walking on the sand along the sea, and it looked like they were dancing,” Corrard wrote in the album’s Preface, “Their bodies were liberated from restraints and their dresses flourished. Each of their attitudes were worth immortalizing…three notes of color singing merrily in the tender light of evening.”[i] As a self-proclaimed “passionate admirer of women,” Corrard wanted to celebrate La Femme, and more specifically her fashionable clothing, as he believed the “Science of Fashion” was revelatory to the customs and manners of a society and thus an essential subject of study. With Modes et manières, Corrard intended to provide an annual documentation of fashion—and thus a Parisian woman’s life—as interpreted through the eyes of a single artist.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

For the inaugural issue of Modes et manières, Corrard employed the talents of fashion illustrator Georges Lepape. Lepape’s stylized renderings, which utilized flat two-dimensional space and bold blocks of color, were indicative of a new direction in fashion illustration that emphasized the emotive qualities of a garment over realistic detailing. It was a style inaugurated by illustrator Paul Iribe for Paul Poiret’s seminal fashion album Les Robes de Paul Poiret in 1908 and again in 1911, by Lepape’s own hand, in Les Choses de Paul Poiret. Lepape’s twelve magnetic renderings for Modes et manières are notably reminiscent of his work for Poiret: both works are printed in pochoir, a highly refined hand-stenciling technique, and both depict scenes of contemplative beauties in various states of leisure and languor. A caption by Corrard provides a witty narrative for each of Lepape’s illustrations, a relationship that would be maintained in all future incarnations of the publication which would similarly pair fashion and literature’s greatest luminaries: “The Painter celebrates the form and color, the Man of the verb expresses the idea,”[ii] wrote Corrard.

In total, eight albums of Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui were produced from 1912 to 1922, with a five-year hiatus due to World War One. All eight albums from the series can be found in the holdings of F.I.T.’s Gladys Marcus Library’s Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives and viewed by appointment only: http://www.fitnyc.edu/8412.asp.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

Illustration by Georges Lepape with text by Pierre Corrad from Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912.

 

[i] Pierre Corrard, Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, Paris: Maquet, 1912, 1.

[ii] Ibid, 8.

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Clara Bow: The Rise and Fall of the Fashionable Flapper

It’s happening tomorrow! Join us for modesmodernity_front_revised3-31

Clara Bow: The Rise and Fall of the Fashionable Flapper

byDanielle Morrin

Bow, Clara (1928)  Paramount / The Kobal Collection

Bow, Clara (1928)
Paramount / The Kobal Collection

Clara Bow (1905-1965) became a Hollywood film star by the mid-1920s.  Bow was the embodiment of the decade’s zeitgeist, a “flapper,” a modern young woman pushing boundaries of expected feminine dress and manner, but her lifestyle, so modern at the time of her newly blossoming film career, became outdated as it progressed into the early 1930s.

In 1923, not long after winning Motion Picture Magazine’s Fame and Fortune contest, which led to a small part in Beyond the Rainbow (1922), Bow left the slums of Brooklyn for Hollywood. She plunged into the new way of life that included frequent reveling, living in the moment, and the free expression of sexuality involving many boyfriends and lovers rather than a single, protective husband.  Bow’s persona shone through her films, perhaps none more so than It (1927), which attracted masses of fans while solidifying her image as the ultimate flapper. Her short hemlines, untamed red bob, and variety of hats and flowing head scarves, both on and off screen, were influenced by the fashions of the time, but her star power also further influenced the flapper image itself.  Fans were attracted to Bow’s lively, carefree personality and her naturalistic, fluid approach to acting.  She was the silent screen It Girl– strikingly different from the actresses of previous generations.

As the Jazz Age gave way to the Great Depression, so too did the tastes of film audiences.  Once viewed as exciting on and off screen, Bow came to be seen as excessive, irresponsible, and altogether passé.   Paralleling the rise of “talkie” film technology during the early 1930s, these changes regenerated a new perspective on what it meant to be a modern woman.  Bow’s career spanned only 1922 through 1933, but during that time she made fifty-seven films, fifteen films in 1925 alone, and undoubtedly cemented a lasting impression within an eleven year period before her exciting, modern lifestyle turned obsolete. This paper will trace Clara Bow’s rise and fall as a modern emblem of the 1920s and examine the career and era of this once fashionable flapper woman.

Danielle J. Morrin received her B.P.S. in Fashion Merchandising from Marist College and interned at Winterthur Museum before coming to FIT.  She is focusing on Curatorial Studies but has also completed Advanced Conservation I.  She has interned in the Curatorial Dept. at Museum at FIT, as a collections management/archive intern with The Wardrobe and Calvin Klein, and in Collections Management Dept. in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This spring she was one of the curators of the student-run exhibition Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket, and is interning with the Costume Institute in the Curatorial Department.
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Modesty in Fashion: Dress Reform in Modern Orthodox Judaism

Tomorrow is the symposium held by the students of the Fashion and Textiles Studies program at FIT. Here is another fascinating paper that will be presented, this time by Paula Sim, a contributor to this blog. We hope to see you there. The event is free and open to the public.

modesmodernity_front_revised3-31

 Modesty in Fashion: Dress Reform in Modern Orthodox Judaism

By Paula M. Sim

Jewish dress codes prohibit women from wearing flashy attire and tight silhouettes in order to discourage the male gaze.The entire torso, shoulders, and upper arms must be covered, with the utmost care given to conceal the collarbone and elbows. Skirts rather than pants are required in order to avoid accentuation of the thighs and must be long enough to hide the knees.For further coverage, tights should be worn at all times. These body parts are considered erotic and must remain covered at all time unless in privacy with her husband. Married women are required to cover their hair following a separate complex system of guidelines. Although men follow their own set of laws concerning dress, it is a display of religion rather than a gesture of modesty. While the Talmud, the written Jewish law, commands modesty in appearance and conduct, these specific restrictions are an unwritten set of standards that are subject to interpretation by all Jews. Modern Orthodox Jews assert positive value to interacting with contemporary society and blend religious values with secular culture. I will examine a few ways in which modernity manifests in Jewish women’s dress.

Two Chabad Lubavitch sisters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn dress-up like their religious friends the Satmar from Williamsburg, also in Brooklyn to make fun of them for the Jewish carnival, the festivity of Purim. April 2013, Brooklyn, New York. Photograph from the book Daughters of The King, by  Federica Valabrega. Published by BurnBooks on November, 2013

Two Chabad Lubavitch sisters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn dress-up like their religious friends the Satmar from Williamsburg, also in Brooklyn to make fun of them for the Jewish carnival, the festivity of Purim. April 2013, Brooklyn, New York. Photograph from the book Daughters of The King, by Federica Valabrega. Published by BurnBooks on November, 2013

 

 

 

 

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A Well Controlled Body: Constructing The New American Woman of Fashion 1900-1940

Two more days…. Saturday is the annual symposium of the Fashion and Textiles Studies program at FIT. Here is one more paper that will be presented. We hope to see you there. The event is free and open to the public.

modesmodernity_front_revised3-31

A Well Controlled Body: Constructing The New American Woman of Fashion 1900-1940

By Virginia Wilking

Josephine Baker 1930 Getty Images / Hulton Archive

Josephine Baker 1930
Getty Images / Hulton Archive

Although women of the modern age enjoy greater freedom and more options than their nineteenth century counterparts they are also under more pressure as cultural forces have made the female body into the focus for much of the social change of the twentieth century.

In this paper I explore the ways in which the body in motion captured the essence of modern life. Images of three influential women during the early decades of the twentieth century will illustrate the importance of movement as it related to modern fashion and the ideal form: Isadora Duncan, Josephine Baker and Joan Crawford. While each woman’s story is uniquely her own, they share one common theme: the relationship of the way their body looks– its size and shape, sexual attractiveness, its exposure both dressed and undressed – to a modern consumer culture where the body has become inextricably linked to personal identity and self worth. To explore the changing ideals and judgments about women’s bodies in the modern age I use the writings and imagery found in cinema, photographs and popular publications as core evidence.

 

Virginia Wilking graduated from Boston University with a BA in cultural anthropology and gender studies. During her time in the program at FIT, she has worked on archival projects for designers Reed Krakoff, Narciso Rodriguez and, most recently, the Ralph Lauren Library. Her thesis will focus on religious dress restrictions within the Muslim fashion community.
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A Tale of Two Elspeths: Forgotten Couturières and their Impact on Modern Fashion

Next Saturday the Fashion and Textiles Studies program at FIT will hold their annual symposium. To get you excited, we will share some of the papers that will be presented in the week to come.  We hope to see you there. The event is free and open to the public.

modesmodernity_front_revised3-31

 A Tale of Two Elspeths: Forgotten Couturières and their Impact on Modern Fashion

By Kathryn Squitieri

The birth of modernity in women’s fashion can be defined as the simplification and streamlining of clothing, as well as respect for the integrity of the material, relying on the concept of drapery rather than cutting to fit an artificially molded body.[1] While Poiret’s innovations during the early years of modern fashion are constantly discussed, it is unfortunate that little recognition is given to the many other important, innovative designers of the early twentieth century. Fashion magazines are filled with advertisements and articles about unheard of couturiers that were quite successful at the time, and who should be studied as much as Poiret and Chanel.

Enter two Elspeths: Elspeth Champcommunal and Elspeth Phelps. Both were British couturières designing for royalty and wealthy clients in London during the early 20th century, and both had incredibly long and successful careers, starting in the nineteen teens and continuing into the nineteen fifties. So little is known about them, however, that at first glance one might believe they are the same person, especially since they were born and died within ten years of each other, worked in London in the same district in the 1930s and 40s, were both married with one daughter, and at different times both worked on the same street. Not to mention they were both named Elspeth. Yet, they were two distinct people.

theelspeths

Elspeth Phelps was born Constance Elspeth Phelps in Portugal in 1876. She opened her London couture house in approximately 1906, and not only designed gowns for high society, but designed costumes for the London stage that were built in her salon. She is credited as a costume designer for dozens of shows, and clothed stars such as Lily Elsie and Irene Castle in ethereal confections of tulle and lace. A pioneering businesswoman, she grew her house by purchasing other struggling dressmaking businesses, including that of Kate Reilly. At the height of her success she became amalgamated with the London house of Paquin. In 1926 she reopened her house as Elspeth Fox-Pitt Ltd., and continued as a Court Dressmaker until the late 1940s.

Elspeth Champcommunal (or Champco as she was called by her friend Virginia Woolf) was born Elspeth Mary Hodgson in 1888. She married a painter, Joseph Champcommunal, and eventually used this French identity to open a couture house in Paris, where her simple designs of striking fabrics and innovative trimmings were revered as much as those of Chanel or Molyneux. In 1916 she became the first editor of British Vogue and championed British fashion designers, including Elspeth Phelps. In 1933 she became head designer at W. W. Reville-Terry. When Reville-Terry and the London branch of Worth merged in 1936, Champcommunal became the head designer at Worth London, a position she retained until the late 1950s.

The objective of this paper is to tell the stories of both Elspeths and show that they were similarly important to the world of fashion as those designers who are frequently studied by fashion historians. They just happen to have been forgotten.

Kathryn Squitieri holds a BFA in Costume Design, a BA in Geology and a minor in Computer Science from Brooklyn College. Before attending FIT, she worked as a costume design assistant on the productions of HAIR on Broadway, RENT Off-Broadway, and numerous other theater productions in New York City. Most recently, she helped dress mannequins for Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe at the Guggenheim. Last summer she coordinated and supervised a team of conservators in the creation and dressing of custom mannequins for the costume exhibition PERSOL MAGNIFICENT OBSESSIONS: 30 stories of craftsmanship in film at the Museum of the Moving Image. She also assisted in dressing Bryan Cranston’s costumes for From Mr. Chips to Scarface: Walter White’s Transformation in Breaking Bad, also at the Museum of the Moving Image. In addition, she has worked as a contract conservator at the Brooklyn Museum and as a dresser and collections assistant at the Putnam History Museum in Cold Spring, NY.

[1] Nele Bernheim. “Modernism in fashion.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, July 2, 2009.

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