How Seminal Pieces In Fashion History Have Been Updated – Harpers Bazaar Australia

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timeless pieces in fashion history

SOME THINGS never go out of style.

In an homage to creative evolution, Harper’s BAZAAR looks back at some of the most seminal pieces in fashion history and how they’ve been updated for modern day.

The Christian Dior bar jacket

Christian Dior jacket, $6200
most iconic pieces in fashion history
A model wears the Bar suit from the spring/summer 1947 haute couture collection, Corolle line | PATRICK DEMARCHELIER

The wasp-waisted jacket was made with ivory silk shantung and featured PADDING at the hipline to give an HOURGLASS effect

The Bar jacket has been one of the pillars of the Christian Dior brand since the designer presented his debut haute couture collection in 1947. As a component of his tailleur Bar suit, the wasp-waisted jacket was made with ivory silk shantung
and featured padding at the hipline to give an hourglass effect.

Teamed with a calf-length, knife-pleated black Corolle skirt, which was made with more than 18 metres of woollen fabric, the look was highly controversial given the austerity measures of the World War II years. Carmel Snow, who was editor-in-chief of US Harper’s BAZAAR, is credited with christening it the New Look, and it would go on to become the definitive women’s fashion silhouette of the 1950s.

The Chanel two-tone slingback

Chanel shoes, $2170
Romy Schneider in Chanel two-tone slingbacks in 1962 | BRIDGEMAN IMAGES

Beige was used to LENGTHEN the leg, while black SHORTENED the foot and PROTECTED the toe from scuff marks

Chanel launched its two-tone slingback in 1957. Produced by French shoemaker Raymond Massaro and based on the popular cap-toe shoes of the 1920s and the slingback style of the 1930s, Chanel’s take on the look featured a five- centimetre heel, a slightly squared toe and an elastic ankle strap. The distinctive two-tone colour scheme of beige and black had two practical purposes: beige was used to lengthen the leg, while black shortened the foot and protected the toe from scuff marks. Reinvented by Karl Lagerfeld in 1986 as a hugely popular ballerina pump, the cap-toe style has appeared in myriad Chanel footwear iterations.

The Prada tote

Prada bag, $3650
John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in 1996 | JOHN NASO / DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE / GETTY

For fall 1995, Miuccia Prada created a MINIMALIST calfskin tote

Mario Prada first opened a boutique in Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade in 1913, selling bags, trunks, steamers and travel accessories. The company became a fashion powerhouse after his youngest granddaughter, Miuccia Prada, took over the creative reins in 1978. For fall 1995, she created a minimalist calfskin tote that caught the eye of fashion icon Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. She was widely photographed carrying the style, which Prada re-issued for spring 2022 as the 1995 Re-Edition bag.

The Hermès Kelly bag

Hermès bag, $33,575
Princess Grace of Monaco and James Lehman in 1959 | POPPFOTO / GETTY

Women FLOCKED to buy the bag, and the brand officially RENAMED it in Grace Kelly’s HONOUR in 1977

The Hermès Kelly bag has its origins in a 1923 style called the Bugatti, a collaboration between Hermès founder Thierry Hermès’ grandson Émile- Maurice Hermès and automobile designer and Bugatti founder Ettore Bugatti.

In 1935, Émile-Maurice’s son-in-law Robert Dumas redesigned it as the Sac à Dépêches, which found its way into the hands of the actor (and future Princess of Monaco), Grace Kelly, in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 romantic thriller, To Catch a Thief. A year later, the paparazzi photographed her shielding her pregnant belly with an Hermès Sac à Dépêches, causing an international furore. Women flocked to buy the bag, and the brand officially renamed it in her honour in 1977.

The Louis Vuitton steamer trunk

Louis Vuitton trunk, $137,000
icons refreshed
Gloria Vanderbilt and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney sit on top of a Louis Vuitton trunk in 1939 | HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY

Louis Vuitton opened his luggage business at Rue Neuve-des-Capucines in Paris in 1854. Four years later, he launched the first stackable steamer trunk with a flat top and bottom in water-resistant grey Trianon canvas — a radical innovation for the travel industry, which was dominated by trunks with cambered lids.

Lightweight and airtight, it proved a hit. His son, Georges, added a revolutionary unpickable lock in 1886 and introduced the checked Damier and monogram canvasses in 1888 and 1896, respectively, in bids to curb counterfeiting. In 1929, the composer Leopold Stokowski commissioned Georges to create a trunk for his global travels. Called, fittingly, the Secretaire Stokowski trunk, a contemporary iteration of the style was released in 2020.

The Armani tailored coat

Emporio Armani coat, $5900
A double-breasted wool and cashmere women’s overcoat from the fall 1993 collection | DOMINIC ISSERMAN

Giorgio Armani launched a WOMEN’S version made with MEN’S suiting fabrics

In 1975, Giorgio Armani started a revolution in men’s tailoring when he launched his brand with a series of deconstructed men’s jackets that jettisoned the padding and lining of the stiff men’s suits of the 1960s. Three months later, he launched a women’s version made with men’s suiting fabrics. The actor Richard Gere appeared in the designer’s relaxed suits and sports coats in Paul Schrader’s 1980 film American Gigolo, helping to usher in that decade’s power-suiting trend. Soft tailoring is the hallmark of the Armani brand, seen everywhere from the premium Giorgio Armani line to the diffusion line Emporio Armani, which was launched in 1981.

This article originally appeared in The August Issue of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia/New Zealand. Get your copy here.

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