Twentieth-Century Fashion

This seminar presents a cultural study of European and American women’s dress from the Belle Époque through the 1980s. Within a chronological framework that traces the evolution of the silhouette and the work of major designers, we explore the changing forces impacting fashion during this period. Along with readings that offer theoretical interpretations of fashion, issues to be examined include changing ideals of feminine beauty as manifested by the use of cosmetics and understructure; the influence of film, historicism, contemporary art, and sport culture on style; the advent and significance of fashion photography; developments in clothing manufacture and the introduction of synthetics; the rise of the American designer and the ready-to-wear industry in the mid-century; the “youthquake” phenomenon and counterculture clothing in the 1960s and 1970s, and the demise of French fashion leadership; and the resurgence of haute couture in the 1980s. 3 credits.