Project Runway… here I come!
Only kidding, of course. But I did think a lot about the television show as I was putting together this “first fashion show”, and don’t say I didn’t warn you that there would be shows coming up.
I am loving my little foray into the fashion world. I love drawing fashions. I love learning about fashions. I love thinking about textiles and trims and accessories. And I’m actually getting much better now at drawing my own croquis.
This “fashion show” project came about recently when I began reviewing fashion trends over the last one hundred and twenty years. Yes, going all the way back to the 1900’s and noting how women’s fashions changed from decade to decade. I had so much fun with all I was reading about that I had to turn my notes into sketches and dress up a few models.
On Project Runway, contestants who make it to “Fashion Week” always give names to their collections, so I’ve done the same thing here. This show is called “Fashion Through the Ages”.
I began by looking at what I was wearing. I was dressed in my usual casual attire, a long, sloppy, comfortable print top over a pair of light-colored leggings. Not exactly a fashion icon, am I? In today’s world, just about anything has a place, but what if I were living in the 1900’s? How would my “casual daytime” apparel look in the 1940’s? The hippie 60’s?
I decided to draw each decade and note how my clothes would have been different.
For the first two sketches, I did quickly draw my own croquis. I’m horrible at faces and hairstyles, so pay no attention to those. To make the process quicker and the resulting sketches more uniform, I switched to a pre-drawn template for the models from 1920 through 2020.
Here I gave the model a gray print blouse with tiny buttons down the front and paired it with a long gray skirt. She’s wearing black shoes, and I should have given her black stockings.
Her hair is in a loose bun, and like other ladies of her day, she avoids the sun so her skin is fair, with just a touch of rose in her cheeks — to show that she’s healthy.
By 1910, fashions were changing. The S-curve of the corset was going away, so dresses were looser and a bit more comfortable. The women’s movement was marching along, and fashion marched along with it.
During this decade, fashion focused on the bustline, so here I created a “bib-like” design so my lovely lady could call attention to her assets.
Her silk skirt is also trimmed with blue satin, and as an added touch of elegance, she’s wearing a choker.
Note: Of the entire collection, this is my least favorite. I struggled with her hairstyle, as well as with her facial features. To me, this looks more like nightwear than a sophisticated dress.
The 1920’s, of course, was a fun time for fashion. The keyword for the decade was freedom. Women got the right to vote. They got the right to bob their hair. They “roared” on the dance floor with the Charleston, the Fox Trot, and the Shimmy.
I had fun with “Miss Flapper”. She has a printed top with lots of fringe and beads, and it’s paired with a short skirt — just above her knees — with more of the beaded fringe. She’s got short hair, a black ribbon choker, and lots of attitude. You can’t really see the colors well here, but this is a pale lavender made from shimmery fabric.
Of particular interest in this decade was the back view of garments, so here I’ve added the back detail to show how the grosgrain ribbon forms a V all the way down to the waist. No, that’s not bare skin there. There’s a delicate covering of lace over her back.
The skirt is soft, flowy chiffon in a somber black, but the bodice adds a feminine touch with of pale pink.
The female figure was celebrated during this era, so her clothes are designed to show off her feminine curves.
There was an emphasis on comfort and practicality, and a continued appreciation for the female silhouette. Hemlines were creeping up.
Shoulders got broader, maybe symbolizing the new responsibilities ladies were taking on, but femininity wasn’t lost.
I gave my 1940’s beauty a big, wide-brimmed hat adorned with a feather. The feather, I hope, adds a bright note of color to the otherwise quiet colors.
When we think back to “the good old days”, a lot of times we’re referring to the 1950s. General Eisenhower had led our troops to victory, and he was now president. More and more women were in the work force, and there was a sense of well-being throughout the land.
That feeling of contentment showed in fashion — in a big, bold, bright way. Red was the color of the day, so that’s what I’ve chosen for my model.
Pencil skirts were in vogue along with tightly-cinched waists. My busy lady is ready to take on the world — first in her job as a stenographer for a lawyer, and then on a dinner date with one of her male admirers.
“Peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll!” That was the theme song for the 1960’s. Gurus were popular, communes were practicing free love, and the “baby boom” generation was coming of age. It was definitely a youth-oriented culture.
With the interest in Eastern philosophies surging, one popular fabric was madras — a lightweight cotton fabric from India. I’ve given my girl a madras plaid shirt to pair up with yellow shorts.
And why not a fun, flirty “schoolgirl” hairstyle, tied with yellow ribbons? And how about those chic open-toe sandals?
As the 1970s came along, so too did drug culture. While LSD was first used and abused in the 1960’s — beginning as part of a military “mind control” program — it wasn’t until the 1970’s that psychedelic really entered the vocabulary. Madison Avenue grabbed the term and used it to sell everything from shampoo to cigarettes. Fashion, of course, embraced psychedelic art and style.
I created a “psychedelic” print using complementary blues and oranges, and accessorized my girl with bangle bracelets and chunky plastic earrings. And, please note those psychedelic shoes!
The 1980’s was a difficult decade when it came to dressing my model. I remember the 1980’s quite well. I wore a lot of “vintage” clothes with lots of colors. I loved long skirts. Those fashions weren’t trendy, though. What was stylish was color blocking, so that’s what I tried to do here.
I wasn’t happy with how this turned out. Curly hair was popular, so there’s that, and as in the 1940’s, shoulders were broad. A lot of clothing was oversized — I remember my favorite sweater coming down to my knees — so I tried to dress this girl in comfy style. Overall, it just didn’t work. Oh, well.
Of course I gave my model spiky blue hair, chunky jewelry, and a studded dog-collar.
Fashion trends were midriff tops and low-waisted jeans. I used this trend to design a lacy top with a diagonal cut, and paired it with faded denim jeans.
I like this model. I saw a lot of girls dressed like this in the 1990’s.
To draw even more attention to my model’s bare skin, I accessorized her with a waist bracelet with lots of little “danglies” — for lack of a better word.
Black and “gothic” — leftovers from earlier times — were still part of the fashion vocabulary, so I went with a dark top paired with pastel pants.
Note the collar detail. The neckline attaches to its own “high collar” to add a bit of interest.
Her casual hairstyle fits right in with her style, I think.
The 2010 decade isn’t too far in the past, and I’ll venture to guess that a lot of us are wearing a lot of the same clothes now that we wore then.
Here, we’re getting closer to “my style” except that I’m not one for fancy trims, and my shirts are always longer and looser. Okay, so maybe this isn’t all that close to my style. I think this 2010 girl is looking good with her boa-feather trimmed, tight-fitting sheath top, her wide, low-slung belt, and trusty blue jeans. I think her long sleeves are quite feminine.
And 2020, here we are!
I borrowed the print and the color from what I was actually wearing when I dressed this model, but made a few changes. I created the puffy sleeves — gathered at the elbow — and went with a current fashion trend, giving her long stockings in the same print as her blouse. I put diagonally-cut pockets with top-stitching for her denim capris, and let her have a bit of fun costume jewelry to wear. Her short haircut is easy to style, so she’s ready for whatever life throws at her.
Creating this “collection” was so much fun! It’s fascinating to learn about fashion history and to see how world events can influence the way we dress. What I’ve presented here only “scratches the surface”. There’s so much more to be learned!
So there’s my show for today — cue the music as all my models parade across the runway now. And, speaking of music… here’s an interesting article on the connections between music and fashion: