Fashion: Introduction | Ondine
“Fashion” – what exactly is it? A word that has been thrown around so loosely for the longest time that most people don’t really know what it is and what it’s not. Over the past 20 or so years, thanks to the internet in particular, there has been a surge in the number self proclaimed fashionistas in the world doing the same thing. But ask any of them what is a Peter Pan Collar or the difference between an Oxford or a Brogue and many will probably not know.
So here at Ondine we have decided to bring you a series of articles with in-depth knowledge on the subject. We feel it’s time to bring a more scholarly and analytical approach to the world of “Fashion” since no one else is doing it; not Vogue, not Elle, not Harper’s Bazaar. We will show you the foundation on which the beauty of the world of clothing is founded upon. In this way you can better appreciate and develop a more refined understanding that surpasses such generic statements as “that blue top is lovely with those white pants”.
Whether it be haute couture, prêt-à-porter (french for “ready to wear”) chain store or upcycled, modern fashion reflects the individuality and the imagination of the designer, fused with their vast knowledge of the discipline, their culture, interests, and artistic aims. As a result, the end user is faced with the choice of a seemingly infinite variety of designs which can be good or bad depending on how you view it. Consequently, when each runway collection is shown to the world, a slew of words seeks to identify its sources, as well as to explain the designer’s “creative genius”.
The following set of articles aim to briefly explain the terms most frequently used to describe the styles of clothing we have worn, and the influences and events that continue to have an impact on the clothes we currently wear as a species. We will cover the jargon which groups different stylistic inspiration and adherents into social/fashion movements, and the most classic and arresting silhouettes that dominate our clothing. It is evident that there is an intimate link between fashion and social history: movements of cultural protest like the beatniks or hippies demonstrate that clothing has been used as a personal identifier and can become a uniform to define a generation. Styles such as the flapper fashions of the 1920s illustrate how fashion is tied heavily to the social changes that liberated young women after World War I. Clothing has also been a mirror to political change for example with trends in Russian-inspired fashion reflecting the country’s experiences of different government regimes.
Equally, fashion is an art and we see a symbiosis with the decorative and fine arts in fashion movements and common terms. Many different trends and cuts have been created by talented artists and their entourages, while art has inspired fashion designers to work towards almost ethereal artistic ideologies, or even to directly incorporate works of art in print or into conceptual form. Such is the close link that curtain terms, such as the belle epoque loosely refer to a historical period, an era of distinct artistic change, as well as a range of iconic clothing and silhouettes. Furthermore, clothing that draws on an imaginary past – perhaps an era of bucolic peace – allow us to tell stories about our own past and identity as humans.
An overall view of the terminology illustrates that at a lexicon level, there is a highly intimate link between clothing, evocative fantasy and the past. We use resonant onomatopoeic language to describe the shocking and new “punk” but also draw on history to suggest that fashion has roots and antecedents with modern-day designers who still
reference the ancient regime or the Baroque. Finally, the striking engineering terms we apply to differentiate silhouettes show how fashion has interacted with the human body just as we humans have altered our environment and architecture. Terms such as H-line or S-bend reflect the technical expertise involved in creating silhouettes, which not only change the way the human body is dressed, but the range of physical movement and liberty it is practically capable of. In conclusion, the knowledge you are about to get is a sort of shorthand to pin down and describe the endless variety of fashion. We hope you take away something useful from these articles.
Are you ready?