Lexicon

Art Déco: a movement often described as a pastiche of styles, is the predominant decorative art style that first appeared in France in the ’20s but eventually got recognized in its own right during the ’60s. It is characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes, an eclectic combination of influences, materials, shapes and strong colors and used most notably in household objects and in architecture. Art deco marked the period between wars and filled the era of consumerism with an exotic essence of colorful optimism and hope.

Cabinet Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann

Avant-garde: is described to be an experimental idea and method in art, music, or literature. The phrase is originally a French term, meaning vanguard. It first appeared with reference to art in France in the first half of the 19th century and is usually credited to Henri de Saint-Simon, one of the forerunners of socialism who believed in the social power of the arts and who saw artists, alongside scientists and industrialists, as the leaders of a new society. The avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, that is, its aesthetics, its intellectual or artistic conventions, or its methods of production – to the point of being almost subversive, and is considered to be a hallmark of modernism promoting radical social reforms.

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Bias-cut: When fabric is cut on the bias, it is cut diagonally across the direction of the weave, so that the warp and weft (the ‘grain’ of the fabric) fall diagonally over the figure rather than horizontally and vertically. The bias-cut is extremely form-flattering when executed well and is popular for accentuating body-lines and creating more fluid curves or soft drapes. It was championed in the ’20s by Madeleine Vionnet and later became one of John Galliano’s signature styles.

Body modification: is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or human physical appearance. It can be achieved by tattoos, piercings, physical alterations that serve a specific purpose in a culture or religion, such as a stretched neck, branded skin or circumcision. In fashion, it is used as body art, self-expression or to display group affiliation. A plethora of garments such as corsets, shoulder pads or even high heels have been used to comprise body-altering results. Many designers used fabric to depict modified bodies, such as Alexander McQueen, who reimagined the human body and utilized fabric in the form of a scuptural tool in order to create new shapes and new perceptions of physicality, or Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Graçons who using prosthetic techniques and volume toyed with the conventional form of models’ movement.

Body modification: is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or human physical appearance. It can be achieved by tattoos, piercings, physical alterations that serve a specific purpose in a culture or religion, such as a stretched neck, branded skin or circumcision. In fashion, it is used as body art, self-expression or to display group affiliation. A plethora of garments such as corsets, shoulder pads or even high heels have been used to comprise body-altering results. Many designers used fabric to depict modified bodies, such as Alexander McQueen, who reimagined the human body and utilized fabric in the form of a scuptural tool in order to create new shapes and new perceptions of physicality, or Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Graçons who using prosthetic techniques and volume toyed with the conventional form of models’ movement.

Dress code: is a costume code that constists of a set a written and unwritten rules regarding clothing as well as other aspects of the physical appearence of an individual.

Flapper woman: was a young woman in the ’20s with a new found way of living that broke away from the Victorian image of womanhood. She dropped the corset, chopped her hair, dropped layers of clothing to increase ease of movement, wore make-up, created the concept of dating, and alas became a sexual person. Flappers created what many considered the “new” or “modern” woman. She was a woman who celebrated the sexual revolution, disdained the notion of acceptable behavior, listened to jazz music that had just blossomed, smoked and drank in public. She strived for liberation and the idea of up-to-dateness, alertness, and growth.

Gibson Girl: was the personification of the feminine ideal of physical attractiveness as portrayed by the pen-and-ink illustrations of artist Charles Dana Gibson in the ’10s. The artist saw his creation as representing the composite of “thousands of American girls.” She combined a sense of respectability and sexuality, often tall and slender, with ample bosom, hips, and buttocks creating and S curve body-type. She was an athletic woman and always perfectly dressed. Through her actions and way of lif.e, she appeared emancipated, but ironically was never actually involved with the suffrage movement.

Power dressing: was a phrase originally coined in ’70s America and by the ’80s, everyone was wearing this smart style of dress. Tailored jackets, shoulder pads, dresses whipped in at the waist and a skirt that stopped on the knee. It is used to convey the impression of assertiveness and competence and enable women to establish their authority in a professional and political environment traditionally dominated by men. The development of power dressing was pivotal in bringing to public visibility women in executive or business position. It served as a way to construct their image and to make them socially recognizable. Women saw this new style as a way to detach from the classical feminine style of fashion, mainly associated with aesthetics and frivolity. The clothes were often made from silk or other expensive materials and their high cost emphasized the elite status of the women wearing them. However, there is no garment that is by nature feminine or masculine, Roland Barthes said it – so did they really need to opt for a ‘masculine’ way of dressing to ensure authority, respect and power?

grace jones

Sari: saree or shari, in Sanskrit meaning ‘strip of cloth’ is a garment consisting of a length of cotton or silk elaborately draped around the body, traditionally worn by women from South Asia. In the past, saris were handwoven of silk or cotton. The drape varies from 4 to 8 meters in length and around 1 meter in width. There are more than 80 recorded ways to wear a sari, but the most common one is the ‘Nivi’ style, where the sari is wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff. The sari is worn with fitted bodice and petticoat and has one plain end which is concealed inside the wrap, two long decorative borders and a section at the other end which continues and elaborates the length-wise decoration.

Theatrum mundi: (the whole world is a stage) is a metaphorical concept that started within ancient greek literature and developed throughout Western literature and thought. It is a metaphysical explanation that portrays the world as a theater wherein people are characters and their actions form a drama, with god, fortune or fate as the author. In literary history, this image developed from a metaphor to a recurrent formula and experienced a vibrant revival in the late Middle Ages as an all-encompassing portrayal of the universe, culminating as a powerful emblem of the spirit and art of an entire age, the Age of the Baroque.

Tie-dye: is a term invented in the mid-’60s in the U.S. describing the process of folding, twisting, pleating or crumpling a natural fiber fabric and binding it with string or rubber bands, followed by application of dye. Tie-dye is characterized by the use of bright, saturated primary colors and bold patterns and reached popularity in the ’60s and 70s. However, this form of art has been around for thousands of years. The oldest kind of tie-dye is called Bandhni, which is a fabric with dots from ties with thread, and originated in India 5.000 years ago. Japanese artists also created tie-dye projects in the 8th century, and by using some extraordinary fabrics for kimonos they designed elaborate patterns on fabric before dying them. In West Africa, they used embroidery to create patterns, and the famous bright blue dyes came from Nigeria. Still, artists from the Western world claim credit for inventing tie-dyeing, but a simple google search will prove that they are -once again – culturaly aprropriating. Hippies and rock stars such as Janis Joplin and John Sebastian made the technique popular, as a cheap and accessible way to customize inexpensive clothing, and it has been yet again brought back in fashion in the form of a ‘nostalgia fest’ at NYFW 2019.

Wrap dress: is a dress with a front closure formed by wrapping one side across the other, and knotting the attached ties that wrap around the back at the waist or fastening buttons, usually made out of elastic, cotton, wool, nylon, polyester, or rayon. This forms a V-shaped neckline and hugs the wearer’s curves. Although it is often claimed that Diane von Fürstenberg invented the wrap dress in 1972, it was originally designed by Charles James and Elsa Schiaparelli in the ’30s and Claire McCardell in the ’40s. Charles James called it the “Taxi Dress,” because he wanted to create a dress that “a woman could slip into – or out of- in the back of a cab.” Elsa Schiaparelli, who was Paul Poiret’s student,was friends with some of the members of the Parisian avant-garde in the 1920s and ’30s, such as Man Ray, Baron de Meyer, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalì, Francis Picabia and described the wrap dress as “The perfect dress, the one that will never go out of style, is just one: the dress of freedom”. Claire McCardell named it the ‘popover dress’ and was her response to the lifestyle of women during World War II- a busy one in which housewives had many responsibilities both in and outside the home. DVF then experimented with, explored and re-invented the wrap dress, using colors, patterns, and new techniques.