Fashion and Dress

▪ 1995

      Glamour became the style catchword of 1994 and summarized a look of being dressed up and made up. The new sophistication put an end to dressing down, the look popularized in 1993 by grunge and the style known as deconstruction, which featured clothes with unfinished seams, unironed cloth, and conspicuous stitching. For women, tailored trouser and skirt suits, short swingy dresses, brightly coloured clothes in rich lustrous fabrics, fake animal prints, red lipstick, and stiletto heels replaced 1993's looser, less constructed look. So enthusiastically were the new elements of style received that the fashion press christened the look "the new glamour."

      The look, however, was not new. Fashion designers who made grunge clothes in 1993—mostly the young designers of Milan, Paris, and New York City—sent down the runways a style that was likened to the glam rock and disco-influenced fashions popular in the late 1970s. A more direct inspiration behind several collections from young designers, particularly those of Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui of the U.S., was Yves Saint Laurent's flashy coloured, slickly tailored clothes of the '70s. The short silver miniskirts and see-through plastic garments that many designers made to add a futuristic feel to their collections were reminiscent of the '60s designs by French couturier André Courreges.

      The real news that came with glamour was the arrival of Nadja Auermann, a 23-year-old model from Berlin, who captured centre stage after hairdresser Julien D'Ys bleached her once dirty-blonde hair pure white. Auermann, standing at 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in), her lips painted an alarming red, and her platinum blonde hair hanging down her back, was the image of glamour personified. Dressed up in sheer plastics and shiny satin clothes, she became a futuristic depiction of an Amazon woman. The "Styles" section of the New York Times heralded Auermann's "On-the-cover coup" after she simultaneously graced the covers of the thick September issues of four major fashion magazines: English and American Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and the British street-style magazine The Face.

      But it was design elements—particularly the return of tailoring that flattered the female form, as well as colour-rich fabrics and accessories—that established glamour as the year's prevailing fashion mood. The length of skirts rose from the ankle to the knee (having not been seen since the 1940s, it was dubbed "the new length") or to just below or well above the thigh. Trousers, always paired with a man-tailored jacket, were slim and no longer flared at the ankle.

      The dress made a major comeback. On the catwalk U.S. designer Donna Karan showed it as a staple to be worn to work by day paired with a jacket and worn alone in the evening. Other designers made dresses as fashion statements. The long, straight-to-the-floor singlets of rhinestones or velvet from the Italian design duo Dolce e Gabbana's autumn/winter collection, the bias-cut light-coloured long satin slip dresses designed by John Galliano, and Gianni Versace's slithering sheaths of silver metal mesh signified that it was indeed fashionable to dress up again.

      The idea caught on. The baby-doll dress was promoted by U.S. designers Sui and Betsey Johnson for the spring and summer seasons. Supermodels and Courtney Love, a singer and the widow of Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain (see OBITUARIES (Cobain, Kurt )), were high-profile endorsers of the style. But the baby doll did not prove as popular as summer's ensemble—the short black slip dress worn over a basic white T-shirt. Dolce e Gabbana and U.S. designer Ralph Lauren put the look together first. It was later copied by chain stores.

      Though glamour set the prevailing mood in 1994, the street continued to influence fashion. For his spring collection Jean-Paul Gaultier included T-shirts and leggings printed with tattoos. His male and female models appeared body pierced, sporting stud earrings above their eyebrows and hoops through their navels. Hoops also dangled from ears and were attached to noses with a chain. Popular fashions seen on urban streets were colourful suede sneakers and tight child-sized T-shirts worn by young women. The costume department of London's Victoria and Albert Museum also devoted an exhibition to the influence of the street on 20th-century fashion.

      Punk, the popular '70s British street style, was Versace's influence for spring/summer. The clothes he unveiled, however, had little to do with the original punk designs—ripped T-shirts held together with safety pins, bondage trousers, and neon colours. Versace made his own safety pins to hype his new look, and he used punk as an excuse to use colour in such shockingly bright shades as hot pink, electric blue, orange, and yellow. Men's fashion offered a more genuine brand of punk style. Dolce e Gabbana paired authentic copies of bondage trousers with colourful mohair sweaters.

      So popular was colour in the autumn/winter collections that it was difficult to distinguish whether the shades used were appropriate for cold winter months. Such items as short suede skirts came in acid-bright orange, as did long shearling coats. White, which was offered as an alternative to fashion's perennial basic colour, black, was also used to set off bright colours. White tights appeared with skirts, and white leather was popular for shoes and jackets.

      For his autumn/winter collection, Versace's colour was so bright that it shined—thanks to his use of metallics and a special spray that lacquered his moiré and silk crepe. To achieve the same shiny effect, other designers used polyvinyl chloride to make trousers, skirts, tight tops, raincoats, and patches on sweaters. Patent leather and see-through plastic were popular materials for the sleek, spikey stiletto, the shoe that replaced the chunky platform.

      Fake fur eclipsed real pelts in several designers' collections, appearing in rich gem-toned colours and such animal prints as leopard, pony skin, and zebra. Animal prints, particularly fake leopard, also debuted in the men's autumn/winter collections.

      In 1994 the Washington, D.C.-based animal activists organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stepped up its campaign to convince fashion industry professionals that it was morally objectionable to promote the use of fur. Such supermodels as Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell went public, posing naked on billboards with the slogan "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" emblazoned across their bare chests. U.S. designers Karan and Calvin Klein also went public with their decision not to design with fur.

      Some questioned the practicality of the glamorous new styles. Women could not wear fishnet stockings, sequined miniskirts, and stilettos to the office. Some historians believed that the return of glamour was a reaction to the protracted economic slump. Department store buyers agreed and claimed that after six years of recession, customers had enough basics in their wardrobe. Women may not have adopted the entire look as it appeared on the runways, but they were shopping. Women's Wear Daily reported that in just one week at the end of the summer, Karan racked up $650,000 in sales at the New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman. In 10 days the U.S. department store Macy's sold 3,000 padded push-up bras manufactured by Wonderbra, a key glamour accessory. In the U.S. overall retail sales increased by a slim 7% compared with 1993.

      Klein's prominence in the fashion industry seemed to strengthen as the year progressed. His perfume CK ONE was fashion's first official unisex scent, and it was also the first fragrance to be sold by the music chain Tower Records. Klein, like other designers, branched out globally. To strengthen business abroad, he opened offices in Japan and Milan. Karan also launched a Milan-based office to build up a European clientele. The Gap, a U.S. clothing chain, opened its first European boutique in Paris.

      Men's fashion in 1994 offered something for every man, ranging from sober gray flannel suits to kilts, bright-coloured mohair sweaters, and powder blue biker jackets. Though wild elements were included in the 1994 collections, men's fashion returned to the traditional styles of tailoring. The dominant theme was classic tailoring taken from the traditional suit cuts of London's Savile Row tailors, and the clothes presented were suitable for a refined English gentleman.

      The move in menswear in recent years had been toward relaxation. In 1994, however, the emphasis was on a put-together look. The focus was the suit, whether sharply tailored with a double-breasted jacket, soft-shouldered, three-piece with a waistcoat, or styled for the street with white shirt cuffs hanging loose and long from the sleeve. Wool suits were cut in basic colours, including black, as well as tweeds and tartans. Designs for young men had a strong theme of rebellion. Gaultier's kilt, now a permanent part of his collection, became a viable alternative to trousers. Men wore kilts on the street and to nightclubs. Berets, Doc Martens, and combat boots were other sartorial symbols of rebellion.

      In September, just before the fall shows, the Italian fashion industry was saddened by the death of avant-garde designer Franco Moschino (see OBITUARIES (Moschino, Franco )) and shocked by revelations that such high-profile designers as Giorgio Armani and Gianfranco Ferre were accused of bribing tax inspectors. Santo Versace, Gianni's brother, was also implicated in the scandal. The industry was astounded to learn in December that French couturier Alix Grès had died in November 1993. (BRONWYN COSGRAVE)

      See also Apparel. (Business and Industry Review )

      This updates the article dress.

▪ 1994


Women's Fashions.
      In 1993 a softer style for women took hold, unseating the hard-edged power dressing that had lingered since the late 1980s. Relaxed attitudes about beauty and clothing helped usher in a new freedom. It was no coincidence that the '70s held primary sway over trends for much of the year. Men's styles remained conservative, with flair added in the accessories.

      Amazon supermodels with curvaceous figures had epitomized the feminine ideal since the late '80s, but they were supplanted by a brigade of waifs in 1993. Shorter, thinner, and wispier, these models were better suited to the flower-power mood of '70s styles and '90s grunge. They also appealed directly to the 20- to 30-year-olds classified as Generation X. Waif models, including Kate Moss and Amber Valletta, sparked controversy because some critics charged that their rail-thin figures encouraged eating disorders among young women.

      Models over the age of 40 also regained prominence, with several well-known faces of the '70s emerging from retirement. U.S. designer Calvin Klein gave older models the biggest boost by featuring a mixture of 40-plus models as well as 18-year-old waifs in his fall runway show.

      A new order also prevailed in the clothing industry, with French establishment couturiers losing ground to an avant-garde pack of Belgian and Japanese designers. The deconstructionist trend advocated by the avant-garde was too aesthetically unappealing for mass consumption, but it was embraced by a contingent of young women in France. Its torn, ragged, down-and-out look made it a cousin to grunge, a style spawned by rock bands based in Seattle, Wash. (See Sidebar (Grunge, a Fleeting Fashion Rage ).)

      These upheavals contributed to the turmoil in the industry. Clothing sales remained weak as the recession dragged on, and many women rejected the increasingly outlandish styles presented by designers. The spring collections were built around a '70s revival that included sheer fabrics, crocheted tops, bell bottoms, elongated vests, ruffled blouses, and platform shoes. Fall was split into two camps: austere, monastic styles and romantic, dandyish looks that often verged on costumes.

      In keeping with the conservative buying habits caused by the weak economy, colours were tried-and-true neutrals. For fall, black made a major resurgence, relieved now and then by chocolate brown, gray, wine, or forest green.

      White blouses with ruffled collars were one of the few items that succeeded in reaching the mainstream. Teenagers wore them with jeans, while professional women paired them with suits. Vests also caught on with women of all ages, with silk, wool, or knit versions often taking the place of a blouse under blazers in spring and summer. Elongated vests sometimes substituted for jackets. During the warmer months, women of all ages wore long, '40s-style housedresses or calf-length knit tube dresses.

      In keeping with the new softness, the predominant silhouette was a gently flowing A-line that flared from narrow shoulders. It was often achieved with a dress or an elongated vest and wide-legged pants.

      Trousers were emphasized more than skirts as hemlines continued to descend for most of the year. Although trousers were still frowned upon in many conservative professions, they gained ground as more women began wearing pantsuits to work. Even the U.S. Senate changed its dress code to permit both sexes to wear trousers after a female senator wore them.

      Women who wore skirts to the office mostly favoured those with knee-length hemlines. French designers created confusion by elongating hemlines through the fall season in their ready-to-wear collections and then doing an about-face by showing microminis in their fall haute couture collections. Within weeks, New York City department stores were displaying miniskirts in their windows.

      Because people were feeling unsettled by economic, environmental, and health concerns, spiritual symbols took hold in jewelry. Crosses became a preferred accessory, both on the runway and on the street. Ankhs, yin and yang symbols, and healing stones also grew in popularity.

      In their fall runway shows, designers took spirituality a step further, showing clothing inspired by monks' robes, nuns' habits, and the garb of Hasidic Jews. Sober suits and high-waisted dresses best exemplified the mood. Accessories in this antifashion look were relegated either to a single cross or to rosary beads. Industrial work clothes and styles worn by turn-of-the-century immigrants also turned into fodder for designers who sought to romanticize previous eras.

      The antithesis of the austere styles was the lush Edwardian look. Brocade, velvet, ruffles, and lace came together in romantic ensembles that were usually built around a frock coat, ruffled blouse, and skinny pants. Chokers, cameos, and long beads were among the preferred accessories.

      Military jackets fit into the '70s inspiration for spring and carried through fall's dandyish and equestrian looks. Both jackets and coats bore gold braid, turned-back collars, epaulets, and metal buttons. Velvet was a dominant fabric for fall, exemplifying the softness and richness of the season. Panne velvet and stretch velvet appealed to younger shoppers in everything from dresses to crushable hats.

      Clunky footwear was one category that spanned all the trends. The bulkier the footwear and heavier the sole, the better. Among young people, Doc Martens became so prevalent that they cut into sales of athletic shoes. Teenagers revived suede Pumas from the '70s and added their own platforms until manufacturers introduced platform versions.

      Platform shoes became mainstream, with teenagers opting for the more extreme five-centimetre (two-inch) platforms, and professional women wearing discreet one-and-one-quarter-centimetre (half-inch) styles. For fall, granny boots took off for all ages, pairing up perfectly with both minimalist and Edwardian styles.

      Outside influences that attracted the attention of the fashion industry included a major Henri Matisse art exhibit in late 1992 and early 1993 in New York City. Matisse's cutouts later turned up as jewelry, belt buckles, prints, and appliqués. In films, the winter 1992 release of Bram Stoker's Dracula spawned a slew of bat-sleeved Dracula dresses and contributed to the romantic styles that came out for fall. During the summer and fall of 1993, the period costumes in Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf's novel, and The Age of Innocence, adapted from Edith Wharton's book, were also predicted to affect upcoming styles.

      For young people, the rap, grunge, and rave music scenes wielded the strongest influence. In the U.S., west coast skateboarders and snowboarders also started many street trends. Teens bought clothes several sizes too big to achieve a baggy look. Headgear ranged from baseball caps to knit stocking caps, which were sometimes tied with a string near the top. Ravers wore tall, striped hats dubbed "Dr. Seuss hats" because they resembled the type of hat worn by the title character in Seuss's book The Cat in the Hat. Another teen fad, which was introduced by rappers, was plastic baby pacifiers worn dangling from a cord around the neck.

      Cartoon characters soared in popularity with both teens and adults. Baby boomers wore clothing bearing images of Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse out of a sense of nostalgia, while teenagers favoured logo clothing that combined cartoon characters with colleges or athletic teams.

      The '70s revival also brought back the shag hairstyle, a short, layered cut. U.S. first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton did not choose a hairdo that extreme, but she did have her pageboy cut into a short, layered style. An increasing number of black women opted for natural hairstyles that did not require chemical treatments. Short Afros, braids, and dreadlocks all gained in popularity. (LISBETH LEVINE)

Men's Fashions.
      In Europe as in the United States, the lingering effects of the recession continued to bite into the sales of men's clothing during 1993. The sales of boys' clothing, however, remained buoyant—so much so that in Britain some of the leading suppliers of men's outerwear, notably DAKS, introduced new lines of boys' wear for the first time. Other companies, including Aquascutum and Austin Reed, met with some success by introducing clothes that were styled especially for the young men's market and designed to be flexible enough for both formal and informal occasions.

      At the other end of the age scale, men's fashions continued to be safe and sure in classic and conservative styling. Older men, however, also liked to feel that they were fashionably dressed when they wore striped and coloured shirts and ties in bold geometric or heavy floral patterns. They remained faithful to sober suits, mostly in gray or blue; beige or blue raincoats in lightweight cotton; and 3/4-length camel or gray topcoats for autumn and winter.

      There were also some revivals of former fashions. In business suits, for example, the slimmer silhouette returned with a slightly longer jacket, more often in a single-breasted rather than a double-breasted styling, with shorter lapels and with a higher-positioned buttonhole where the jacket fastened. Trousers were formfitting.

      There was also a trend toward using more lightweight fabrics and toward coordinating jackets and trousers rather than wearing two-piece suits made from the same material. These jackets and trousers were often offered in different cloths as well as in different colours. Both linens and linen-and-cotton blends, usually in cream-coloured shades, were fashionable for both jackets and trousers.

      Again, as for several years, the younger men were responsible for setting trends. Casual shirts were invariably worn outside trousers, with knitwear being longer than the jacket and sometimes tied around the waist. Caps, especially American styles, were worn at jaunty angles. At Wimbledon a tradition that had stood for centuries was broken when hatless ball boys and girls were issued blue baseball caps to protect them from the scorching heat.

      Footwear trends saw a number of variations to the sandal, including a type with a single strap. The sandal remained functional and fashionable for leisure, but young men and boys favoured Reebok shoes, preferably in white. The Doc Martens boot, steeped in British tradition, was worn throughout the year.

      In the annals of men's fashion history, 1993 would probably be remembered as a year of insecurity and price sensitivity. Customers took more time in making their selections, fewer clothes were finally bought, and the ones that were purchased had to be of better quality—for which higher prices were paid, sometimes reluctantly.


      See also Furs (Industrial Review ).

      This updates the article dress.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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