Modernism represents a change in viewpoint of culture within society, in order to look at topics with a modern viewpoint. Modernism fashion did not have a definite style as it was shown through art, design, architecture, music, fashion and theatre. It believes in the idea that form follows function and that an object’s use should be the priority and that the design should not interfere with the function of the object. This led to more simplified designs. At the beginning of the twentieth century, modernism saw a close connection between fashion and art. Art was approached differently, not just as a painting but also as other creations including fashion and textiles.
Modernism fashion is not wearing the clothes depending on particular place or social class but just seeking fashion for fashion. Paul Poiret was a french courturièr who was interested in modernism through art and fashion. Poiret’s interest in colour and exoticism filtered into his fashion and theatrical costume designs. In the 1900’s artists were just starting to illustrate fashion so fashion designers were working closely with artists and with new printing techniques they were allowed to show their work with brighter colours with were often used in fashion magazines. Paul Poiret was also a member of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs which was set up in Paris, 1901, used to promote modern French design and art.
In 1906 Poiret changed the original design for a corset to a S- curve silhouette, which emphasised the female figure. In freeing women from corsets, Poiret effected a revolution in dressmaking, that shifted the emphasis away from the skills of tailoring and focused more on the drawing of the fabric. It was an drastic change from the couture traditions within the nineteenth century which replied on pattern pieces and more specifically pattern making to the intended result. In 1914 the first world war had changed fashion it was a period of great change internationally and in particular in Europe. During world war one men went off to war and women had to take on the roles that were filled my men. Women’s clothing changed from being feminine and restricted to something that was easy to move in. A military style was shown within fashion designs through the military style tunic jackets, epaulets and belts. Women wore less jewellery and lavish clothing that had come from the Edwardian era.
As they took on more masculine roles their clothing became more relaxed, skirts became shorter which allowed them to more around quicker and colours were more muted. Jeanne Paquin was the first women to gain international success in the fashion world, she created garments for new and more active women. Paul Poiret designed a hobble skirt, “which was a narrow skirt that restricted women’s stride”, and Paquin had her own take on the skirt which she added hidden pleats in the place of the slits which created fullness to walk. She “mixed tailoring and feminine drapery.” WW1 fashion trends had also shocked society because it was allowing women to take on roles that were usually done by men and women were going to university, taking on professions and their clothing because less feminine and frilly to more practical. Masculine styles tailored jackets became firmly established which led to power dressing in later years. Furthermore, in 1947 Life magazine showcases Christian Dior’s New Look which was a separate look from military influenced garments of wartime. It was a post war turning point in fashion history.
The look consisted of a fitted jacket with a nipped in waist and a full calf length skirt. After there was a shortage of fabric supply during world war two, Dior’s lavish use of material was a bold and shocking move. His design used yards of fabric it was that that “approximately 10 yards of fabric was used in early styles… later Dior used 80 yards of fabric on newer refinements that eliminated bulk at the waist.” There was also evening versions of the dress which was very glamorous which was worn with a boned top and the full skirt was very feminine.
People thought the new look was shocking because of the way Dior had used the fabric and because breasts were more exaggerated than they had seen since 1900’s, along with a small waist and full skirt which gave a feminine and rounded silhouette. It was because the very feminine style that was brought was so different to the masculine styles from the war time. People believed that, after all the progress that was made for women after the wartime, “Dior wanted to send women back into domesticity.” In addition, the government in Britain had considered banning the new look and asked people to boycott the new fashion for patriotic reasons. However, soon people accepted the New Look which remained fashionable for 10 years into 1950’s and influenced other designers at the time.