A Fashion History – 1890-1930 Belle Epoque to Modernism/Surrealism

Bless up from your feet to your head top

We Go Again,

I want to introduce ideas that fashion had and researchable references we can all key into makeup and und understand what happened where. It would be foolish to try and stuff all of this in one sitting so even though this thirty-year period is sparse the references we glean from it send ripple effects throughout the decades to come and ar important to point out.

Lets Start in France. France would be the home for innovative minds such as Picasso, Le Corbusier, Balenciaga, and Coiran.

This is important because this was a moral hub and the essence of France to be home to some of the greatest minds from art to philosophy and architecture. It was in the DNA of this space to be so.

America would duplicate this at a later time and advertise itself as such which is important to consider for later times. The Love story between America and European artists would begin soon after.

America after the Film industry spanned round the world post world war 1 the invention of their celebrities will provoke artists to move

Before such time though was the Belle Epoque Period, where fashion was a middle-class job, like the cobbler and watchmaker there was no global esteem other than the Royal Dressmakers,

Such as Charles Worth and his peacock dress; tulip dress; who worked with Swarovski in 1905

the highest esteem of most designers would be to be tapped to create a wedding dress for a royal and get their names out there as a Court Dress Maker, humbled by the task to create clothes for someone affiliated with the highest station, using the best fabrics and what is contemporarily known as Couture techniques.

As the 1900s went on this idea would only gain more clout as names like Balenciaga, Givenchy and Dior made – which is a video entirely of itself, Creations such as these bought Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga Cartier, and Christie’s world fame

any time you hear someone love off those three designers it often stems from the fame of who they dressed.

Balenciaga Exemplified this in design and reality

Balenciaga Royal Dresses
Fabiola Baudouin
Pauline De Rothchild
Dona Fabia Oliveria
Cecil Beaton

Christian Dior Royal Dresses
Princess Margaret adored designer Christian Dior,

Antonio Castillo – of Lanvin
Antonio Castillo made a wedding dress for Elizabeth Arden

Edith Head

Hubert Givenchy – Grace Kelly,
Jackie Kennedy, white satin ballgown
Audrey Hepburn, as Holly Golightly 1961
Royal relationship, Duchess wore a white. Givenchy coat

More on that class later – Not to Skip Ahead, just create examples

but to impress on the fact, fashion had hardly any of these celebrities during the Belle Epoque and early modernism. The heralded artists were painters and writers.

The World War (1) had a profound effect on society and culture itself. Women and men went through drastic changes in dress and popular style  Paul Poiret and other fashion designers were called into the military, with their couture houses closed their couture clientele vanished into the army along with many of its weavers. Wartime prevented commerce between France and the United States and, although the French silk industry remained in operation in Lyon

Silhouettes became more natural, the straight front corset was changed for a more natural figure, and emphasis on the bust being pronounced died down.

form and function. had to go hand in hand

Example: Watches men war were on the wrist instead of the pocket watch uniform was key, men decided not to starch so much anymore and wear fewer ruffles on the collar in exchange for contemporary versions of the ones we see today.

Women would make their own clothes with fabric and uniforms for war as well as keeping homes.
I can find no account of someone with massive aspirations of being worldwide,
most designers’ highest aspiration was to have a salon in the Town center & be known as the best where they are.
It just wasn’t reasonable to have this great empire that transcended the language barriers and be everywhere at once, to even dress a whole society let alone the world.

while the male designers were at war female designers came forth, Coco Chanel freed them in Sports look – that had appeared in Vogue

Women particularly needed items to be active in, where before they would be trapped in clothes, Chanel made Hats; loose chemise with belts; casual pleated skirts; practical Rodier wool jersey; and sailors sweaters

Chanel’s practical jerseys made it an instant modern classic with wealthy clients, making the rich look young and casual

Sportswear = Shorthand for clothes made to be moved in, running playing frolicking.

Paul Poiret (first couturier) helped popularise “Orientalism” this was massive in this decade and spawned into movies and social gatherings – including draped fabrics, eye-catching colors, and a column-like silhouette. freeing need for costs and even claiming to have abolished them.
Paul introduced “harem pantaloons”; Hobble Skirt; dresses than needed no undergarments; introduced the lampshade tunic, cocoon coat

I want to add post-1917, Modernism took over the decade, people were to do away with all the things you saw them do before. An there’s the time you would find people migrating to France to be free,

the early ’20s saw people wanting to change their identity making way for Escapism and The Art & Cinema reflected that.

Andre Breton gave people Surrealist writing and opened the Door For Dadaism

Remember also the Suffragettes were around, their feminist movement influenced what women wanted more than most things and had women question why they would dress in the way that they did.

The writers and salons brought more artists to Paris and some of your favorite designers of this time were inspired by them.

There are Two to Three types of designer,

Societal/Socialite: The see the world around them and have it reflect in their design
Inspired: They find an art movement, book, artist, history and use that work of expression in their design

Third would Be Inventive:  Someone who create their own edict and gifted it to the people. Most of the two other types of designers have this third sauce they incorporate to where they draw their inspiration from

Jeanne Lanvin, Charles Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gabrielle Chanel, Paul Poiret, and Madeleine Voinette fall into one of these.

I want to introduce 3 artists from the 30s which are Charles James, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Jeanne Lanvin. who are designers I want to talk about in length at a later date

Charles James

Charles James, a man from Chicago born in England influenced by provocation and not his lust for women but his love for men, known to want to dress dominant women with presence and esteem. Creator of the Down Jacket and Strapless gown.
Starting out as a milliner even said to sculpt hats on women’s heads he moves quickly to dresses.
A man recognised in the mid-century (which we will get to) by Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga, as a great dressmaker of the time, even influencing contemporaries like Christian LeCroix, Gianni Versace, Zac Posen to take from his ball gown design.
Having some very provocative wears such as the Wrap Dress, -Saying a woman can undress in the back of a taxi, not that she would, but she could –  during those times just the mere thought of that could be striking.

James said ‘all of my seams have meaning, they say something about the human body’. His thoughts to clothes were every dress had to be tempting, erotic and alluring. The way they hug and curve around the body you can see that.

Working from New York city with, considered to be an architect in cloth because of his cultural design, an artist who happens to have fashion as his medium Making sculptural designs such as,

The Swan Gown,- having many layers of petticoat that creates this subtle, shimmering effect of colour blending by using yellows and magnets. The women’s movement will show you the interworking of the dress.
The taxi dress 1932, – which was so made it was easy enough to put on in the back of a cab.
The Lobster Dress – in jersey draped and tucked inspired by surrealist ideology creating an upward tuck attached to a central spine.
The Umbrella Dress – was his first iteration of a Strapless dress having the first understructure that he created.
The Clover Leaf 1953 – sculptural and anatomical line, with a mind for fabric engineering he created a voluminous sculpture a woman can wear, Austine Hearst found it remarkably comfortable
Making him the closest contemporary of Balenciaga, Like me intrigued by anatomy and its existence in fashion, dedicated to the want for fashion to grow and change
In the Lizzy and John Tish Gallery, they surveyed the Whole Career of James. dividing his wor into 4 sections,
1)Spirals and Wraps. 2) Drapes and Folds. 3) Platonic form. 4) Anatomical Cut

Everything he did he saw himself as an artist first,
Clients such as the Countess of Ross, Austine Hearst

Jeanne Lanvin 

A house headed by names such as Gianfranco Ferre, Antonio Castillo, and Alber Elbaz
Jeanne Lanvin herself was a phenomenal Couturier that created a foundation that could stand the test of time standing strong at over 125 years, a great dressmaker, and modern lifestyle matron who sort to dress for the family and create an aura in the home.
Oldest of 11 Lanvin sort to make a name for herself and a good example to her siblings. A matriach it shines through her way of designing and her logo being a mom and daughter in 1954 it became one of her and her daughter going to a ball representing motherly love expressing her love for family.
This in mind she apprenticed for a hat maker at 13 soon after she apprenticed for a dressmaker, Madame Felix at 16.
In 1889 Lanvin became a milliner on ‘Rue de Faubourg  Saint Honore’. Which was known for being one of the most fashionable streets in the world?
She married Count Emilio in 1895, an Italian nobleman, who she had a daughter with, but later divorced in 1903 – her second lover was met in 1907 Xavier Melet. The children Clothing she made into the couture house, House of Lanvin.
1909 House Lanvin gained formal status Couturier Status by joining the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute couture – Starting her house with mother Daughter dresses.
Lanvin Robe de Style was influenced by 18th-century design, a dress with a small waist and full skirt, forerunner of Dior’s New look,
Chemise dress became the blueprint of 20s fashion, leading the way since the start of the decade all throughout
Bel Discau, 1928 with Swarovski
1926 Lanvin Created a menswear line making her the first designer to dress the whole family. A motif that will continue throughout ages.
Her trademark style featured, Intricate trimmings, embroidery, beaded decorations, light floral colours, quilting & machine embroidery as well as discreet use of sequins

Lanvin Blue came from her love of exploring with dyes, creating colours, and the need for exclusivity. So in 1923 she opened a dye house to secure exclusivity for the colours she formulated, this colour was a motif in her homeware line. Lanvin Blue was inspired by a Fra Angelico,

Lanvin saw life as a whole and not just one for social gatherings, created holistically, sportswear lingerie, interior decorating, perfume, furs, and menswear.

Her Daughter was a great inspiration Marie-Blanche, its written that Lanvin designed to Dazzle her daughter. Louise de Vilmorin said in doing so she dazzled the world’. Even her Bridal Collection bore her daughter’s name and the perfume was a gift for her daughter.
Other inspirations were costume books, daguerreotype (photographic plates publicly used in 1840-1850), Historical plates, drawing to better influence her Robe de Style.

Lanvin Sought to create the most compelling designs and sourced fabrics from around the world creating a ‘Fabric Library’. from places such as China, Japan, & Persia, embroidery from these cultures. Also to contemporary artists

A woman of exquisite taste, having such a wide library of fabrics colours and reference points in her 30 years active, when I said foundation I truly meant it, this woman was phenomenal and was a seminal designer from the first 50 years of the 1900s, Being a Pioneer woman of the world and Business mogul. Matriarch of fashion

Robe de Style Lanvin Blue, Homeware, Family portrait (Menswear and Womenswear),

Elsa Schiaparelli

A Roman born designer who was introduced to fashion by Paul Poiret. Was introduced to Art Galleries by her father, she was fascinated with all beauty but her own.
Her father was a renowned scholar Celestino was head of the library of academia Nazionale die Lincei e Corsiniana curator of Medieval Manuscripts and mother a Neapolitan aristocrat.
The rest of the family uncle Giovanni was an astronomer whom she spent time with studying the heavens influencing her to study philosophy at the University of Rome and Cousin Ernesto an egyptologist; aunt an adventuress.

She released a book of passionate poems that shocked her family causing her to be sent to a convent which she protested via hunger strike. continuing her provocative ways

At 22 she went to London for a job being a Nanny in 1913, putting her in proximity to museums and lectures feeding her eager mind, 1914 she attended a Lecture by Count Wilhelm de Wendt de Kerlor, her parents asked her to not marry him and in  Elsa fashion, she does so anyway and starts her family in Nice, France.
She was and had always been accustomed to luxury, and high-society she wanted for nothing do to her parent’s social status. For some reason, she thought it was stifling her art and creativity so cut herself off from her privilege. Continuing her Wiley ways of provoking her parents and living by rules she created.
1916 She uprooted her life to go to New York with her husband, where they get affiliated with Gabrielle Picabia wife of Francis Picabia the Dadaist painter.
1920 Schiaparelli and her Husband grew distant, the lifestyle change she enjoyed, he loathed, the modernism of New York, while she thrived. Subsequently, he had an affair with a gogo dancer and left Elsa with their firstborn Maria Luisa. 1922, she leaves New York back to Paris to Design Clothes. 
She Gained a Mentor in Paul Poiret who encourages her to create designs while also giving her clothes for personal wears.
Her house was shut down in 1926 due to finances. This doesn’t stop her though, the very connected and known aristocrat in 1927 she launches knitwear like using a double layer stitch and sweaters with surrealist trompe l’oeil images. Appearing in Vogue the very same year with a sweater that would take her to the masses.
1928 the “pour le sport” collection expanded into bathing suits, ski wear, and linen dress.
“S”, Her Perfume also appeared in vogue July 1928.
1930s were her primary years of activity, 1931 she added evening wear to her lines which she flourished in, Heavily influenced by surrealist she collaborated with Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti and made the Tears dress, the Lobster dress and Skeleton Dress, the latter would go on to influence designers throughout the ages. She was pitted against Chanel during these times and their rivalry is well known and was ongoing between the world wars vying to rule womenswear, its said that Chanel may have possibly definitely set Schiaparelli on fire, by accident, maybe. Chanel and Elsa were after the same client so it stood to reason they would be rivals
Her love for the arts kept her abreast of all the happenings in Paris Vogue said “She Goes Everywhere knows everybody follows all the artistic activities, of painting, sculpture, music, and the Theatre”

in 1932 she became the first designer to open a shop making ready-to-wear pieces, 1934 she makes hats, 1935 she adds zippers to high fashion,
1937 was a big year for Elsa “Shocking Pink” (inspired by Daisy Fellowe’s Tete de Belier, Pink Diamonds) was introduced to us.  beside her first “Shocking” Perfume. Shocking Pink became Elsa’s Signature colour. This was the same year as her butterfly collection The Coat with Jean Cocteau, a surrealist piece that had two face profiles making a vase under a bunch of taffeta roses. This same year she unveiled her Shoe Hat, That was inspired by a picture of Salvador Dali with his wife slipper on his head. Her costume jewelry was also inspired by surrealism, most famous piece was a necklace made of Rhodoid, a new clear plastic studded with coloured insects, making out as though the insects were crawling on the neck.
She waited out the War in New York till 1945, but in 1949 had her tailers open up on Seventh Avenue for her American Clients,  thereafter she even had Givenchy himself work under her till 1951, the businesswoman had completed a variety of licensing deals for menswear and mix-and-match. 1954 House of Schiaparelli closed its doors as she was too stubborn for her to change when fashion said change. The Socialite bought playfulness and intrigue and an “anything goes” motif to the fashion world.

This brings to a close the first period of the 1900s exploring the state of society what was needed and ask of designers during the time, the art movements writers and the accomplishments of some contemporary designers. Some names unlike the names you already know, all different and fulfilling a different need of the time which really opens up this


Whatever Moves Your Dial

Damilare. Not Your Typical

Follow my socials Instagram: @nytypical Twitter: @nytypical

To learn more about Owning Your Own Ship – OYOS  

Please check out Some of my Thoughts On:

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Click here for my Essays 

 On My series work

Spring Of The Rookie

Sickle Cell Companion

Owning Your Own Ship

Whatever Moves Your Dial

Damilare. Not Your Typical

Follow my socials Instagram: @nytypical Twitter: @nytypical

To learn more about Owning Your Own Ship – OYOS  

Please check out Some of my Thoughts On:

For some longer form write ups Read some of My Dialogues

Click here for my Essays 

 On My series work

Spring Of The Rookie

Sickle Cell Companion

Owning Your Own Ship





The humbleness of the master.

I have been giving so much thought to the progression of my community and ownership, the ways in which we work by way of how we execute a plan, follow through and the tact that’s applied.

This led me to broach the topic of peers once more and how we adapt when collaborating, as well as who we select as our juniors. It’s funny because there are many times where I have tried to collaborate and it’s fell through because I decided to not be the leader and every time since I’ve changed my stance I have been successful since.

It’s not very easy to collaborate because you’re adding someone else’s energy into a project that may be your baby or coming out project so that they can either run it to the ground or worse lead it to a mediocre execution. So I understand the need to look at track records or even not want to do it as a whole. At the same time, nothing in any of the creative industries come without any sacrifice or risk. And with collaborating you’re doing both, sacrificing power and risking for a higher percentage of success.

I have worked on my own and in a team, there are many things out there that tell me to work on my own. So many signs especially in writing, that have pointed to a world where I am the most solitary and I must write in the silent world of night.

However my personality has always been success in numbers the more people that are attached to the success of a project the sweeter the feel. I haven’t achieved more than a 4 person team as of yet, yet I still stay true to that, again even though my success has been very independent.

I maintain my need for ownership when doing projects this means many independent ventures and I am now in a space where it is very convincing to me that advancement come at the price of never faltering in leadership and having powerful peers and juniors.

I say all of that to say

How serious are artists about working with their peers

This question needs to be asked because everyone I know wants to collaborate till life gets in the way and you now have to hold your head, relax and act as if it’s no big deal but you know that all your success at this point came at the understanding life can’t get in the way of this.

So I ask the question how serious are artists about working together, the let’s build sessions sure are fun. But you who was very serious about building is now left to take the hit and continue looking around. If anything, your peer letting you down and having had life get in the way means they are not right for the job. Some times you have to be more dedicated to the creation of the project than your social life that’s not scold the person you wanted to work with but be willing enough to pivot till you find it. It’s just so very important that you’re able to start this creative collaboration with the right people so you finish just as well. That journey is also a solitary one and can’t be taken lightly, if you do feel you have a holy grail situation it’s truly necessary to see it through.

Are you dedicated enough to take a junior role to your peers

Some people are at the point now where they know so much about their industry and an extraordinary amount of years in the job role but the market just can’t place them. Let’s say by no fault of their own but they have a great friend who is doing extremely well for themselves and their skills will fit perfectly within a friends venture. Do you have the minerals to ask for a junior position at the friends place of operations, even if that’s a kitchen table. Remember it’s not what it is now it’s what it could be, so that being said if you have a great machine near you on its feet it’s your point to look into your own Acres Of Diamonds, where you’ve found the best opportunity closest to home.

Humbleness of the master

Are you truly trying to work with a peer or someone that you think you can boss around. Are you living in your arrogance of the bachelor or in your humbleness of the master? A true peer of yours will have their own ideas which will mean your original idea will change, not too much of a deviation but enough so the other person feels they have enough equity in the idea to do the job to the best of their ability.

So many people want to grab someone who’s less than and knows less than them to create an instant power dynamic where they’re the master when the truth is the master will show themselves in due time. There will not be enough time for that to happen if instead of picking the right support you chose a shoddy or unprepared partner to help raise the wall of your business.

From both sides one another have to come with a mutual respect for their peer, meaning; you respect them enough to talk to them about an idea that could change both of your lives; and from the other side where you are able to give your friend props enough for coming up with an idea that can fit both of you in and feed your families for generations

The humble master knows where they are now can change depending on how they manipulate the fortune they already have even if it’s like those Hollywood ‘I had 35 dollars in my back pocket before my big break’. Your fortune can be right there with your friend or someone you are acquainted with it’s up to you to decipher the opportunity.

The notion that you can come up with just anything and grow and expand with yourself alone at the top with the crushing weight of the corporation on your shoulders sounds like a terrible idea and too unlike the most successful ones. So does the idea that a great idea that’s executed at its highest potentiality has to come from some genius that knows it all from the start. Sometimes it’s a simple idea executed extremely well with a friend.

Absolutely anyone can be appointed to be the person who brings you to your hallowed and long awaited success in your career. Keeping yourself relevant is in part discovery of new talent and shining a light on diamonds in obscurity, yes that’s right there could be a complete stranger that you can meet who could keep you relevant and continue to lift your equity in your industry, this all depends on your quality assurance. Have you been trying to do that from the start? If not you can probably bet you’re going to face a steep learning curve in that area. If you had embraced finding the right people in the beginning and not forced situations or tried to do it all on your own you could have placed that learning time in a period where it didn’t mean much.

The Humble Master will teach you, knowing so much means you only know so much.

Custodians of intellect

Bless up from your feet to your head top

We go again,

People with degrees are custodians of intellect. Let me explain.

Where this essay came about was thought the understanding and processes of deadly life within a system that was built to enable people who can perform tasks, from simple mundane Labour to complex labour.

As I understand it, the defining difference in how to scale a business is the ability to fit tasks that conform to this system of daily labour. Labour for now will be anything that is constant repetitive and day to day.

Scaling a business means you have the ability to hire the right people to do tasks day to day in order to allow you the opportunity to scale.

For a system as the one we (those who live in the west) have to function properly is to identify particular labour points that end up repetitive to you and take too much of your day, the solution you have at first is to optimise it in order for you to finish the daily labour as quick as possible and the following is to create a framework (job description) that is explicit and worthwhile enough to hand it off to someone else. The third and industrious of the three is to have someone create an autonomous computer system that removes the human element and plugs in a machine in order for humans to do more human cantered tasks

I bring up the function of the mailing system someone has to collect mail take it to a sorting Center, create a framework to place mail in the rights districts zones and areas in order to, ship them off to the designated areas and hand it to a delivery person to for the last mile of delivery to a pick up point for the custodian/recipient of the mail.

In the context of mail we have found there are parts where the right machine is made we can remove the human element up until the point of the last mile delivery. I have to add, in recent cutting edge tech news there are people creating last mile delivery robots. Unbeknownst to the greats population as the bottleneck of the delivery/mailing industry today. Where we have thousands of people vying to be the foremost and first company to create one suitable for mass production.

A benefactor of autonomy is the mass production industry, where industrial design takes precedent and we get many objects with the same function under thousands of companies, from lamps to tables, wardrobes, etc. Even call centres and calling operations as well as our internet, there isn’t someone plugging you into a website that is a system made by someone to create a seamless experience. Nothing like the phone operators of yesteryear who you would tell you’re, the area you want to reach and they would connect you. Now everyone is a satellite ping away.

Human ingenuity isn’t necessary today it’s human dexterity. Ingenuity and enthusiasm is wanted but not required for these type/style of repetitive tasks.

Today we have tasks that need very little ingenuity but are highly complex and prized tasks. Like cleaning up code, creating a good UI and security testing. Labour that can be somewhat related to custodians of cities and office spaces.

Which brings me to my understanding, people with degrees are custodians of intellect. If you have the patience and intellect enough to sit there and collect a degree for one of these prized positions you too can be a custodian of technology and sweep the internet backend or frontend.

What before was ever growing and ever changing field can now be summed up in a headline that can be correctly delivered to HR personnel, not jobs that make money but better inform and streamline better business practices.

The difference between a district sanitation worker, postal personnel, are degrees on different fields of study patience and time.

My full analysis of this came from what else could these people in high prized positions do, could they become VP or better yet Run the company, most I’ve spoken to are very happy with their position collecting degrees to keep their paycheque.

The defining difference is the ingenuity to know how and why the business runs and what to make it better, where there are many who couldn’t care less, so long as it runs and they can make money from it. That human ingenuity which usually cuts out humans in factory work and the postal industry is starting to happen to people in tech today. Redundancy.

Human ingenuity empowers business to the point of removing a human element in place of efficacy after a particular inflection point is reached in a position which a task is repetitive enough to create an automated system without the need for human involvement.

An industry we can find delivered from human indiscretion is banking, evolved from boring country club members to mega yacht owners. Through the use of technology and human ingenuity from MBS (Mortgage Backed Securities) to High frequency micro-trading – Banking has constantly engineered a par of human ingenuity and technological advancement in someways making it the most highly competitive sort after and revered industry in the world.

Whatever Moves Your Dial


Not Your Typical

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