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    Fashion History: The Present Era

    August 22nd, 2016

    Since the end of the 20th century the vicissitudes of globalization and the development of new technologies for design and production (including the creation of new “techno textiles”) increases the influence of the future of fashion. Synthetic materials such as Lycra, Spandex, and viscose became widely-used. Back to that time fashion turned to the past for inspiration, after two decades of looking to the future.

    Fashion History from 1980 – 1990

    The 1980s saw a definite rise in the popularity of designer styles, while high fashion had greatly declined during the 1960s and 1970s. Fashion shows were more important then ever and were transfigured into media-saturated spectaculars and frequently televised. Power and money dominated the styles of the 1980s and clothing was a sign of power. The better-heeled people around the world were literally rushing to pricy New York boutiques and Paris fashion shows to purchase directly from designers’ lines. Extremly popular were the baroque evening dresses and long, extravagant designer gowns which made a reappearance inspired by the past. While not everybody could afford the very expensive designer cloths, the mass producers on the other hand replicated the high fashions for the general public. A few fashion designers such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren for instance also produced ready-to-wear lines to appeal to less-affluent customers.

    Thierry Mugler and Azzedine Alaia were the two French fashion designer who best defined the look to that time. Thierry Mugler produced fashion designs that combined Hollywood retro and futurism, with rounded hips and sharply accentuated shoulders. Due to his glamorous dresses which were a remarkable success to that time, Mugler had made an end of the hippy era and its unstructured silhouette. On the other hand Azzedine Alaia was known for his inspiring combinations and was the master of all kinds of techniques that had previously been known only to haute couture. He included in his designs many new and underused materials, such as Lycra and viscose.

    Beside the prevailing fashion image of the time two Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto offered a very natural look and marked a total break of the extravance and glamorous fashion designs. Flat shoes, no make-up, reserve, modesty, and secrecy were the hallmarks of their modern look.

    In American fashion, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren dominated the ready to wear styles in the 80s. While Karan brought a very personal and feminine approach to the severe, sober-colored, casual American look for urban women who greatly appreciated the understated luxury of her clothes, Lauren represented a classic look as sportswear and jeans that had been adopted for an active life. Unlike Karan, Lauren reached the widest possible range of social classes and age groups due to his affordable price points of his designs.

    Watch the clip to imagine the extravagant 1980′s:

    Fashion History from 1990 – 1999

    The economic recession at the beginning of the 1990s in the fashion industry literally destroyed the positive and optimistic mood of the 1980s. Women had begun to reject the moneyed, designer styles of the 1980s and opt for more comfortable, casual clothing by the 1990s. Ripped jeans, flannel shirts and baggy pants which were inspired by the rock & roll and hip-hop movement became extremly popular. The comfort and the desire of wearable clothes became the key factor in the fashion industry for most women in the 1990s and 2000s. Ready to wear retailer such as Gap and Banana Republic came to the forefront of fashion and retro clothing inspired by the 1960s and 1970s was popular for much of the 1990s.

    The Italian fashion house Gucci, founded in 1921 had begun selling luxury leather goods and gave up control of the company to Invest Corp. in 1990, was then employing an unknown fashion director, Tom Ford in 1994. Ford triggered a tidal wave with his chic and shocking collections, perfumes for men and women, revamped boutiques, and advertising campaigns. Hence the Gucci house was crowned with a great prestige and is today the second biggest-selling fashion brand, after LVMH worldwide.

    At the end of the 20th century Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs were the most influental American fashion designer. Michael Kors’s knowledge and consciousness of trends enabled him to produce simple well-cut garments, whose sophistication and elegance appealed to a whole new breed of wealthy American customers drawn to the new vogue for minimalist chic. Marc Jacobs is one of the most notable American designers of the period in that, unlike many American fashion designers in the past, he was not so much the co-ordinator of a mass-produced garment as a designer in the European sense of the word. The already well-known designer Calvin Klein on the other hand started to market his fashions, perfumes, and accessories beside the US also in Europe and Asia and was achieving an unequaled success. Klein used carefully constructed advertisements containing images tinted with eroticism to promote his sophisticatedly functional mass-produced designs, which won massive popularity among the urban youth of the 1990s.

    In Italy, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace dominated the fashion industry in Europe to that time. Both, Dolce & Gabbana with their superfeminine and fantastical style and Versace with his brilliant, sexy and colorful designs, broke away from the serious and sober-minded fashions that dominated during much of the 1990s.

    Catwalk footage of supermodel Cindy Crawford at Calvin Klein runway fashion show in 1991



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