Valerie Steele is my fashion Icon. Not because she is the most beautiful and well dressed. I hardly know how she looks like. No, she is an fashion historian and Director for the Museum of FIT in New York. Read her books and you’ll see.
One of the first one I read was the one above. Women designers are highlighted in this book as fashion history is mostly dominated by male designers. The book not only mention Chanel and Vivianne Westwood, we all know about those. No it is about others like Schiaparelli, Vionnet, Alix, Lanvin, Delaunay, Nina Ricci and Claire McCardell. (She misses out Katja of Sweden (!) but I guess she was not famous enough and therefore not part of the world fashion history! McCardell was the pioneer of ready-to-wear and mass production and also Katja of Sweden’s Teacher so I guess that will do.)
Women dominated Paris fashion history in the 1920s and 1930s, according to Mrs Steele. The World War II meant a weakness of the Parisian couturiere and the success of the American ready-to-wear, which became a significant trend in the postwar period. Redy-to-wear meant more practicle and comfortable rather than sexual and restricted cloths. This started to be an important trend anyway, which was practiced by both male and female designers as you can not tell the gender of the designer by simply look at the design.
Sewing has been part of womens work throughout history but it was when the production of cloths moved from home industry to business the profession was taken over by men. In the medieval Europe a tailor could only be a man.
Well it is time to re-write history and Valerie Steele’s book is one important step to do so. There is time to highlight important female designers throughout history that has not been much in spotlight or quickly disappeared from it.