"Fashioning Fashion" sheds new light on popular trends
What to wear? What to wear? People have been asking themselves this question for centuries. LACMA's exhibition "Fashioning Fashion", gives fascinating insight into some of Europe's fashion trends from the past 300 years. When it comes to women and fashion, the main objective has been and will always be, to stun and impress. On Santa Monica's newly renovated 3rd Street Promenade, you might see a midriff-baring top with matching sky-high high heels, giving the person a "I can't walk straight but sure I have a nice belly piercing" look.
During the 17th century, the trend was to wear dome shaped dresses that extended outwards from the waist up to seven feet wide, made entirely of thick metal wire.
It seems the more uncomfortable, the more mandatory. This is why corsets were brought about. Women of all shapes and sizes wore them, in order to complement the trend at the time, which were accentuated hips and busts. The laces on these torture traps were often so tight that the captive inside would faint from lack of respiration.
Corsets also became an important sex symbol. The overpopulated brothels of the centuries would command their employees to loosely wear these garments. They made the erotically charged process of undressing well worth your time and money. Many of the women's corsets were likely damaged or ruined during this eloquent process.
However, men have always been much more conservative in their apparel. They wore a three-piece waste suit or a suit and trousers.
As shown by the "VOTE OR DIE" campaign of 2004, what you wear can express volumes. During the French Revolution, the wealthy refused to wear working class trousers. They rejected the mighty peasant revolt, relishing their ability to not lift a finger while still remaining rich and powerful.
For many, fashion is an important part of daily life, and for others just a nuisance. With malls on every corner, and even the most absurd outfits being accepted, our generation can wear almost anything they want. Because the leaps taken by the fashion world are always grand in their unpredictability, it's difficult to know what's next. But one thing is for sure, for a very long time people have gone at ridiculous lengths, simply to look great.