Searching and sustaining: A little travel through history
I will try to make this ride as short as possible so that you don´t fall asleep during the lecture, but I promise it will make you see the future clearer.
Looking at some archives of the Kyoto Costume Institute and its "Evolution of Fashion 1835-1895" and "Japanism in Fashion", made me think of why such exhibition, that aimed at introducing the world history of Western fashion and the influence of the Kimono in contemporary fashion where so well received and powerful that were able to travel throughout 6 years around the 5 major world fashion cities.
The truth is looking back at the 18th century, political events, cultural and social movements, as well as artistic manifestations where very much all linked and enhanced in the fashion world, just as it is today. The so named Rococo epoque, representative from various perspectives representative of the refined and harmonious style of the French environmental was the consequence of the coronation of Louis XIV in 1715. Its extravagance and sophisticated elegance left behind the solemnity tastes of the 17th century and gave way to a whole scenario of decorative details, essential silks, fabrics and embroidery inspired by the surrounding political and social environment. It was actually his wife, Madame de Pompadour who established, during the golden age of this Rococo period, the art of more functional clothes liberating somehow part of women´s aesthetics. She set up a lifestyle that combined elegance, exoticism and sensuality , that was more in accordance for the daily social role blossoming in women during those days as well as a nature inspired style that has outlived until the current times. Men´s clothing were, also on their own way, ambassadors of the historical process.
Have you ever wonder where did all the embroidery and silk of those days came from? Well, the fact is that Europeans and the fashion sector have not just started looking at the eastern countries during this century. China provided, during those days, the exquisite embroidery and decorative arts that the aristocracy demanded; patterns, colours and textiles of that time are due to the imports developed from China those days. They very soon became a status symbol of wealth, just like the ones we talked about in the previous article, and achieved such a great popularity that even governmental bans to imports had to be settled!
Also Japan had a role in this scenario: its traditional kimonos were highly appreciated in those times, but as nowadays, as the importation was very limited, Europe sought for another , faster and cheaper supplier: India. It was not until Christophe P.Oberkampt set up a new printing technique from England in Versailles, that printing factories suddenly blossomed throughout the 18th century all over Europe. Anglo-mania, another interesting movement, as Europe did not only look at the rest of the world in their search for inspirations, they also looked at their nearer countries and its important figures! Voltaire introduced its Anglo-mania when he returned to France in 1728, Shakespeare introduced with his words the English spirit to the Germans, English food was offered at Parisian dinners…and today, well, today we all look at London when seeking for new fashion spots and trends.
Interesting, interesting how The French revolution gave rise to replace the silk for cotton, and how with the labour of the press and women magazines of the period the elegance of the court costumes was confronted by simple and ordinary clothing style…doesn´t it look like the current scenario of luxury fashion VS high-end and fast fashion brands?
Well, maybe….looking at the past will make us take a step towards a better future….
To be continuous….for sure