Thursday, November 5, 2009

Once Again Ivan Sayers! 100 Years of Fashion

 

Written by
Treasure Seeker Colleen

1919-2009
Picture Courtesy Canadian Archives

As a preface to this show, Ivan talked a bit about his own background and early interest in history and collections. He had a museum set up in his garage when he was thirteen. After completing a degree in Classics (UBC) he started to buy and sell to survive. In 1970, he worked as a volunteer at the Vancouver Museum and then was hired on to catalog the general collection. He continued to work there for twenty years as the Curator of the History Department. He has his own fabulous collection, in his house, and is a traveling museum and a continuous source of education and fund raising for a host of worthy causes. He has found and saved men's and women's clothing from the 18th century so without his careful storage, where would this record of history be? He would like to see a costume and textiles museum to store his many books, patterns, sewing tools and everything to do with how people change their appearance.

Ivan presented a slide show which began with a picture from a Canadian magazine/newspaper from July 1896 -Toronto and shows a Classic Profile from that year. It is a very 'natural' profile with the waist band at the centre of the body. First came a shift (slip) to cover the body and then a bustle pad and 4 petticoats, a corset cover and one more petticoat. The skirt was conical and did not show the legs. The sleeves were a focal point with the width of shoulders the same width as the hem of the skirt. The shoulders were squared off and the posture forced to be erect by the tight corset. The stomach was forced out but this was disguised by the bustle in back.

In 1898 a French woman invented a corset that was straight down the front and created a flat stomach, however women were still forced to stand with an exaggerated arch to their back and still used bustles. Petticoats were made out of stiff taffeta. Skirts clung to the body without revealing legs or skin.

1900-1903 The emergence of the 'Sweetheart' neckline. Corsets were worn from an early age - beginning as early as one and a half years of age. Women were ornaments in men's houses. Corsets still caused health problems.

1904 Puffy sleeves and Pouter pigeon chest. The profile should always have an S shape curves and no straight lines. An example of this dress was found in Victoria. The dress was worn with a wide brimmed flat hat. Flat hats were worn on top of lots of hair - puffed up style and lots of hair pieces.

1907 - The body shape changes again. Empire waist line. Ladies Home Journal - 1908 shows a raised waistline, making the legs look longer. Attention was drawn to the face. Women could now vote, although their opinion was to be the same as their husbands' and they had to own land before they could register as voters.

The body became less important in the 1920's - in fact, women looked like boys and were almost 'invisible'.

Lots of Asian influence was in evidence - the Kimono sleeve was popular, the size of the skirt was reduced and the emphasis continued to be on the face. A long parabola or umbrella was carried to create a parallel line beside the woman and made her look taller. Hats became even more fantastic and exaggerated; the bigger a hat was, the more 'handicapped' and fragile the woman became and had to be looked after rather than being independent. Hat brims could be 24 to 36" across and hat accessories were worn for each season. Flowers and birds would be for Spring, fur for Winter.

High collars helped hide the skin; women were covered, seen but not heard. They were said to be most attractive between 35-45 years old. The hat continued to be a beacon for the face. Hats were so exaggerated that Punch Magazine made fun of them, picturing them as carriers of dead animals. Skirts raised above the ground, corsets lengthened and in an Eaton's of Winnipeg picture 1910-1911, bustles had disappeared.

1913-1914 went from an Empire Revival to Asian influence and French designers. The Japanese Kimono provided a long curve to the body. (Picture) The most attractive part of the body is at the nape of the neck.

Prior to this, the structure of the garment was emphasized and dull colours prevailed. Now 4-5 there were 4-5 principal colours per outfit. Hats were small and fans and parasols were popular. Skirts are fitted to the ankle and walking is difficult. Looser waists and sashes and obis are also popular. The Persian influence can be seen and fashion is all about doing new things in old ways.

February 1914 - Straight skirts, more functions, more volume around hips; world war 1 is coming and women have to become more functional outside the home. They had to work for the war effort.

1917 - Women could vote if they were over35 and had a male family member in the military and if they were Caucasian. They also had to own property in their own right. This was a time of wrap around skirts, making the most of limited materials. The textile industry was focused on war. Skirts were shorter for increased activity. Dropped waist lines promoted a more youthful look. Everything was aimed at the young, especially on the young soldier and the woman as his counterpart.

1922 Woodwards Mail Order Catalog showed somber fashions.

1924 - The body continued to be invisible with the look being that of a little girl in older women's clothing. The fashionable, urban was thin while the rural, farm women were not. Dresses were shapeless; one could see the legs but not the skin. Oversized necklaces only in the early part of the 20's. Fashion at this time, became universal.

1925 - Skirts were shorter, closer to the body as the economy improved, clothing became more novel.

1928 - The Debutant emerged as did the slouch. the chest was caved in and posture was bad. Women took on a boyish look. Dresses were very short and tight with bias cut hems. Skirts were longer in back than in front. A hand beaded dress from Vancouver.


The Art Deco period reduced women to simple geometric forms.

1929 - The Stock Market Crash and the Fashion Industry was in trouble. This prompted the return of 'the figure'. Skirts became longer and figures were slender with the help of a woven girdle across the stomach and backside to flatten both areas.

1933 - The housedress is popular (picture) and the waistline is at a natural level and sleeves are small and puffed. Woodwards Catalogue shows a housedress made of 100% cotton for $2.,85. People were working for $1 a day, if they had a job. Skirts were slightly A-line and travelling is a theme. Shoulders were now emphasized.


1939- Skirts to knees. Fonsie Photos very popular in Vancouver. If you have any street photos with the Fonsie stamp on the back, please consider copying and giving to the Vancouver Museum as they are collecting these for an exhibit.

Women were involved in war work and their clothing showed this adaptation. Shoulder pads gave an impression of physical strength. There was no wastefulness of material and colour is now the principal decoration. Rayon is very fashionable for dresses and jackets and both have shoulder pads. The profile is a T shape instead of an S.


1947 - Christian Dior, lots of material, longer skirts, indulgences. Tiny waist, pockets to carry things on trips abroad. Full skirts, big hats, getting away from the bad taste of war and into fun and frivolity. The girdle of the 50's and 60's was the living, rubber girdle.

1957 - Skirts were short, bouffant hairdo's, 1958 - Barbie, girlish long legs, sack dresses, balloon skirts, experimental look. More geometric, back to the 20's again.

1964 - Boxy style, revival of Chanel Suit, Twiggy - 5'6'' and 106 pounds. Skin and bones, a hanger for clothes. Lots of bead work done by hand, silver mini dress, legs are the focal point, long, fitted boots and paper novelty dresses. More fashions from India, Africa and Ethnic traditions are seen everywhere. Clothing is natural and comfortable - mini to maxi, hot pants, wedge platform shoes, elephant pants, revival of Edwardian fashions.

The 1970's were a response to Dr. Zhivago and women's liberation movement. Shoulders were broader than any man's.

This fashion show was a celebration of 100 years of Fashion as well as 100 years of the South Burnaby United Church. Proceeds went to support children's activities in the community as well as abroad. Home baked cookies, cakes, brownies and squares showed as much artistry and history as the costumes.


The next show not to be missed is:

 
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