How Did Orientalism and Exoticism Influence New Innovations in the Cut and Construction of Women's Clothing in Western Europe in the Early 20th Century?
(2017) How Did Orientalism and Exoticism Influence New Innovations in the Cut and Construction of Women's Clothing in Western Europe in the Early 20th Century?, no. 42.
Modern Western fashion effectively originated in the early 20th century, stemming from revolutionary ideas advanced at this time pertaining to structures of women's dress that diverged radically from previous Western clothing ideals. During this period there were also perceived trends in Orientalism and Exoticism; interest in and emulation of 'Eastern' or foreign styles in Western society. As approaches to dress in non-Western cultures differed greatly to those in Western Europe, this study discusses the role these influences played in bringing about the structural changes in women's fashion, looking at the work of several of the most innovative contemporary designers and assessing how they may have been inspired by 'oriental' or 'exotic' principles. First examining the extent to which these themes were circulating in Western culture at this time, this study goes on to analyse the structure of the garments produced by these designers, comparing them to both previous Western dress and current 'Eastern' dress, assessing respective differences and similarities. This includes elements of practical investigation in the reproduction of several garments as research into considerations such as shape of cut and placement of seams, and culminates in the creation of an original design working from the same principles to afford greater insight into construction processes. From this, it is concluded that oriental and exotic sources were instrumental in inspiring techniques of design-by-draping, prompting increasingly creative uses of fabric, as well as methods in straight-line cutting that produced more relaxed clothing structures, concepts which still resonate in the fashion industry today.