1) Thesis- In the early 20th century, European women of the feminist movement were gaining attention through protests for women’s rights, but the most powerful protest was the visual demonstration of women’s independence through the revolutionary clothing designs of Gabrielle Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet.
2) By the early 20th century, women were beginning to experience civil equality, and because of the first World War, jobs were opening up for women, but it would take many alterations for women to change their status.
a) Clothing silhouettes changed with the events of the feminist movement.
b) Women wanted to show independence in their dress rather than their loyalty to men with clothing that fitted a man’s liking.
c) As women anticipated amends to their role in society, their clothing would evolve with new practical silhouettes that displayed a sense of control and self reliance.
3) The turn of the century into the early 1900’s produced a revolutionary changed in women’s clothes away from the whale-bone, constricting corset.
a) French designer, Gabrielle Chanel felt is was necessary for women’s clothing to be functional and youthful as women were finding more work opportunities in society (Picardie 69).
b) Madeleine Vionnet then advanced upon these ideas by producing simplistic clothing flats that were draped around the natural shape of a woman to display an air of brevity and openness that brought about strength in women (Taschen 404).
4) There are numerous terms significant and unique to fashion that these designers were dealing with in their height of production
a) feminism- “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men” (Oxford).
i) Women’s fashion effects the social side of this protest for equality.
ii) the everyday look of a woman was a constant protest backing the self-rule of women.
b) Haute Couture- “The designing and making of high-quality fashionable clothes by leading fashion houses” (Oxford).
i) each of these designers eventually gained supremacy to be famous Haute Couture designers of their time.
ii) Their practical clothing became successful enough to be the new Haute Couture.
c) Stencil- Printed clothing- A technique used by Gallenga where she used a cut out pattern that was painted over and died into the fabric of her dresses.
i) this added to he renaissance designs
ii) it was unique to her and distinguishable from other designs
c) draping-“The art of creating a dress or garment simply by arranging fabric around a body using the natural fall of the fabric and techniques like pleating, gathering” (Fashion Dictionary).
i) Sources used
ii) essays written about designers
iii)quotes from the designers
iv)photos and paintings of the designers and their works
1) CoCo Chanel 1883-1971- Gabrielle (CoCo) Chanel became famous in the 1920’s for sparking an evolution of the blasé, working woman in her designs.
a) “It was she who brought zense and comfort to female clothes, shifting their control from the viewer to the wearer, from how clothes looked to men to how they felt to women” (Updike 466).
i) Women take control of their image
ii) Despite the standards of men
b) Chanel was inspired by flapper minimalism and was urged to take do away with heavy weight and complexity of the clothing of the time (Updike).
i) When women would walk into the boutique with extravagant hats and corsets, she would ask “How can the brain function in those things?” (Updike 467).
ii) Chanel explained “Some women want to be gripped inside their clothes, never. I want women to enter my dresses and to hell with everything else” (Wallach).
c) Janet Wallch explained after seeing Chanel’s work, “All is practical all is logical, all is done to mae a woman feel good about herself.”
i) This is how women wished to be seen by men
ii) The image of women is no longer overwhelmed and hidden by layers of expensive, lavish gowns of the 19th century.
2) American Vogue considered Chanel “The Ford of Fashion” because she mastered the designing of the real woman.
a) This phrase takes the successful man’s name and applies it to a woman.
b) When Chanel found issues in her everyday-life that she felt applied to other women as well, she would search to resolve the issues in her clothing.
i) During WWI, Chanel made her clothing waterproof with deep pockets and raisable cuffs so that women could still shop despite the absence of transportation.
ii) While walking on the beaches of the Riviera, Chanel though to put straps on a cork sole and make sandals.
iii) It was all about comfort and blithe while still looking elegant.
c) Chanel felt that her clothing compensated for any sensitivities and self conscious tendencies that she felt.
i) Once when walking into a gala of wealthy people that she had to make an impression on, she explained, “my timid entrance, my awkwardness which contrasted with a wonderfully simple white dress, attracted people’s attention” (Picardie 70).
ii) On this occasion, Chanel realized that the wealthy women in the room, who revolved around showing off their assets of wealth, were alarmed by Chanel’s unexpected appearance.
iii) Some of Chanel’s most successful designs that progressed the position of a woman were the little black dress and the woman’s suit.
d) The double C in the Chanel symbol came from a clash Chanel had with her boyfriend, Boy Capel; because both of their names began with C and Chanel wanted to illustrate that she was independent of him.
3) In 1917, Gabrielle was invited to a opera with her friends, and in the disastrous event of getting dressed and accidentally exploding the gas burner in her bathroom CoCo settled for a little black dress.
a) In the explosion, Chanel’s white dress was engulfed in soot and her hair was fried.
i) Chanel cut her waist-length hair up to her chin and impulsively grabbed a black dress but was astonished to find incredible youth in the new look.
ii) “With bobbed hair and a little black dress, Chanel was neither slave girl nor wife, but something of her own making” (Percardie).
iii) Chanel claimd that everyone at the Opera was looking at her, they were impressed that “the darling of the English became the beauty of Paris” (Picardie 87).
b) Chanel’s true love of the time, Boy Capel, died in a car accident in 1919 and Chanel continued to mourn in black.
c) Then the black dress turned into the chicest garment of the decade and was considered a uniform as dependable as the Ford automobile in 1926 by American Vogue.
d) Chanel perservered through the mourning of Capel “out of the past and into the future, wearing black as a symbol of strength and freedom” (Pircardie 93).
i) Chanel was then an independent woman
ii) Chanel: “I imposed black; it’s still going strong today, Black wipes out everything else around.”
4) Numerous celebrities sported Chanel’s designs during and past her age; these were successful women allowing their clothing to display their self-achievements
a) In 1963, Jackie Kennedy wore a Pink Chanel suit on a presidential visit to Dallas, Kennedy chose the pink suit and hat to radiate the simplicity and elegance that her husband especially admired.
i) It was that day that JFK was shot and killed in the parade.
ii) Jackie Kennedy’s suit was stained with blood and endured the tradegy of losing her husband.
iii) On that same day, Kennedy walked with the hurse of her husband, wearing the same chanel suit that was now stained with her husband’s blood (picardie 289).
b) Marilyn Monroe famously wore Chanel’s top selling perfume, Chanel No. 5.
c) Elizabeth Taylor wore the quilted Chanel suit and sported the quilted Chanel handbag.
d) All of these women were strong women in society who were able to make fortunes equal to men and who loved Chanel’s clothing for accentuating their capabilities.
5) Madeleine Vionnet was a french designer in the 1920’s who believed that “when a woman smiles, then her dress should smile too.”
a) Vionnet excluded any entities that took away from the natural curves of the female body in her designs.
b) Vionnet also designed with simplistic silhouettes that were intricate in their draping and cutting to maximize fluidity along the female figure.
c) Her clothes accentuated the movement of women and was inspired by Greek Art where clothing draped above the body and moved with its natural movement.
d) Becuase she did not believe in mechanically molding the shape of a women’s body, Vionnet became a world renowned designer and innovator for feminine dynamism.
6) Madeliene Vionnet movd to the fashion house of Callot Soeurs in 1900, she began to experiment with what would make her famous: draping.
a) In the fashion house, Vionnet could work with real models rather than designing on paper.
i) This allowed for Vionnet to design with the body and began drapping fabric along the natural curves of women.
ii) By designing directly on a woman, Madeleine Vionnet was able to construct clothing that gave women the ability to personalize their comfort and maximize the comfort in the garments.
b) Vionnet was later inspired by the Japanese Kimono silhouette, and gave her designs deep armholes and large sleeves for chic comfort.
i) She used origami in folding her fabric to add dynamic interactions on the surface of her gowns.
ii) The simplistic look of the designs covered up the complexity of the artistic folding of fabric
c) With these techniques together, Vionnet moved away from cutting and tailoring, wrapping and draping.
i) Maximized the flexibility of the dresses and gave women the ability to do everyday activities in the gowns.
ii) Vionnet allowed for her designs to appear simplistic, but to be complexly decorated as to not take away from the flexibility of the cloth.
d) In Vionnet’s clothes, women looked natural and had many liberties in their movements to compensate for their upcoming opportunities in society.
7) Vionnet was most famous for coming up with her signature cutting technique known as the “bias cut” of fabric.
a) The bias cut is a cut across the grain of fabric that lays the elastic strands of fabric vertically to fall onto the form of the wearer.
b) With this, the fabric would cling to the woman and would move with her natural curves.
c) The revolutionary cut was body-slimming to a woman’s figure.
d) Women can show their integrity in Vionnet’s bias cut clothes because the garments are naturally hugging their figure rather than constricting and molding it to look up the standard.
9. Because leading designers Chanel and Vionnet changed the way women were viewed with their daily dress, the feminist movement was greatly catalyzed and aid with visual representation.
a. Like Grecian Godesses, woman could choose to wear whimsical dresses that expressed the virtue and capacity of the natural woman.
b. a woman protesting to work, vote, and join parliament would not be able to prove her capability while sporting a constricting corset that proved obedience to masculine standards.
c. Through Chanel, implistic and even menswear clothing was designed to express superior feminine beauty, and through Vionnet, women could sport their sensuality without materialistic structuring.
Both women sought to search beyond the heavy layers of fabric that women were required to wear to find the true beauty of a woman and to present it to the world.
10. Clothing did not grant women direct freedoms, but its constant protuberance of protest catalyzed the revolutionary changes in the European feminist movement.
Arnold, Rebecca. (n.d.). Madeleine Vionnet. Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion.
Bland new york. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://blendnewyork.com/fashion-dictionary/draping.htm
Capote, Truman. Coco cahnel. Portraits and Observations (pp. 220- 221). New York: Random House.
Karlo, K. (2009). The gospel according to coco chanel. Morris Publishing Group.
Oxford dictionary. (n.d.). . Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com/?attempted=true
Picardie, Justine. (2010). Coco chanel the legend and the life. London: HarperCollinsPublisher
Tachen, Initials. (Ed.). The collection of the kyoto costume institute fashion a history from the 18th to the 20th century.
Thames and Hudson, Initials. (Ed.). (2008). The thames & hudson dictionary of fashion and fashion designers. Singapore: CS Graphics Pte Ltd.
Updike, John. (2007). Gabrielle "coco" chanel. In A Knopf (Ed.), Due Considerations (pp. 465-470). New York: Random House.
By the early 20th century, women were beginning to experience minute intimations of civil equality, and because of the first World War, jobs were opening up for women, but it would take countless alterations for women to fairly change their status. On the terms of equating women’s political social and economic right to men, the feminist movement illuminated in this era. One perpetual observation of the feminist movement is that women changed their clothing silhouettes correspondingly, and as a result, the fashion plunges also changed the view of a women. Women wanted their clothes to radiate independence and control without showing their subjugation from men any longer. As women took faith in their self reliance, feminine clothing would evolve with new practical trends that men could not direct. In the early 20th century, European women of the feminist movement were gaining attention through protests for women’s rights, but the most powerful protest was the visual demonstration of women’s independence through the revolutionary clothing designs of Gabrielle Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet.