Becoming a Professional Fashion Designer

Become a Professional Fashion Designer

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West and North Africa have specialized in indigo tie-dyed cloth, which was originally introduced through the Jewish dyers and merchants within the Muslim world. The combination of folded and bound resists with the special nature of indigo dye that requires oxidation to produce the blue color allows the textile artist to repeatedly expose the cloth very briefly to the dye bath through dipping instead of, or in addition to, immersed saturation, thereby controlling the degree and depth of penetration. In some cases seeds, pebbles, or other nonabsorbent articles are tied into the cloth to establish a uniform module for the resisted patterning. The folded or stitched areas of these

Tiedye 1960s

Musician John Sebastian in a tie-dyed jacket and pants. While the techniques of tie-dying date back to as early as the sixth century, tie-dyed clothing gained popularity in the 1960s with the "hippie" generation. Photo by Henry Diltz. Reproduced by permission.

Musician John Sebastian in a tie-dyed jacket and pants. While the techniques of tie-dying date back to as early as the sixth century, tie-dyed clothing gained popularity in the 1960s with the "hippie" generation. Photo by Henry Diltz. Reproduced by permission.

primarily cotton cloths are used to create boldly striped or radiating patterns for robes, shirts, and tunics; large turbulent swirling motifs for bou-bous and caftans; or repeated, linear symbolic imagery for wrappers that serve as dresses and skirts. In Nigeria, the term adire means, quite literally, "to take, to tie and dye." Raffia is traditionally used as the binding or stitching material in African work that also includes stitched tritik and embroidered resists.

Because tie-dye is based on hand-dyeing that was often practiced as a domestic household industry, the process and its resulting visual qualities fell out of fashion during the mass-industrialization of textile printing during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rather, the hard-edged block, stencil, silk-screen, and roller-based printing processes were preferred. However, with the revaluing of the individual craftsman as hands-on producer during the 1960s, the characteristically blurred visual qualities produced by dye penetrating fiber regained favor because of the visual spontaneity and rich, uneven effects. The ubiquitous tie-dyed T-shirt became the symbol of the hippie generation. Since that revolutionary decade, many contemporary textile artist-craftsmen have explored and expanded upon a rich variety of tie-dye methods, resulting in a renaissance of these techniques during the late twentieth century. Foremost among contemporary practitioners is American Ana Lisa Hedstrom of California, whose innovative exploration of arashi shibori dyed-silk textiles for wearable art garments, has become trendsetting.

See also Dyeing; Dyeing, Resist; Hippie Style; Indigo. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gittinger, Mattibelle, ed. To Speak with Cloth: Studies in Indonesian Textiles. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California, 1989. Excellent articles on various Indonesian textile processes in their cultural context. Larsen, Jack Lenor, with Alfred Buhler, Bronwen Solyom, and Garrett Solyom. The Dyer's Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976. The classic authoritative source on worldwide resist-dyed textiles; superb visuals. Picton, John, and John Mack. African Textiles: Looms, Weaving and Design. London: British Museum Publications, Ltd., 1979. Thorough discussion of resist-dyed textiles; excellent photographs. Schoeser, Mary. World Textiles: A Concise History. World of Art Series. London: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 2003. Concise overview of textile processes, cultural interrelationships, and historical evolution.

Wada, Yoshiko, Mary Kellogg Rice, and Jane Barton. Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing: Tradition, Techniques, Innovation. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1983. Pioneer source with outstanding overview of traditional techniques with detailed diagrams and contemporary examples.

Jo Ann C. Stabb

TIGHT-LACING The term "tight-lacing" refers to the laces that tighten a corset. There is no generally accepted definition of what constitutes tight-lacing since it could be argued that any corset that is not loose is tight. Furthermore, there is no agreement as to how tightly corsets were usually laced. Some nineteenth-century writers argued that any use of the corset was dangerously unhealthy, whereas others tolerated or praised "moderate" corsetry, reserving their criticism for tight-lacing, however this might be defined. When they mentioned measurements at all, they variously defined tight-lacing as a reduction of the waist by anywhere from three to ten inches. That is, depending on the definition, a natural waist of, say, 27 inches might be reduced to a circumference of anywhere between 24 inches and 17 inches.

John Collet's caricature Tight Lacing, or Fashion Before Ease (1770-1775) depicts a fashionable woman clutching a bedpost, while several people tug strenuously at her stay laces. Anyone who has seen the movie Gone with the Wind (1939) can picture Scarlett O'Hara in a similar situation, exclaiming that if she cannot be laced down to 18 inches, she will not be able to fit into any of her dresses.

Published accounts of extreme tight-lacing in Victorian periodicals, such as The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine (EDM), describe young women reducing their waists to sixteen inches or less. For example, a letter signed Nora was published in the EDM in May 1867, claiming to have attended "a fashionable school in London" where "it was the custom for the waists of the pupils to be reduced one inch per month. When I left school . . . my waist measured only thirteen inches." Another letter signed Walter appeared in November 1867: "I was early sent to school in Austria, where lacing is not considered ridiculous in a gentleman . . . and I objected in a thoroughly English way when the doctor's wife required me to be laced. A sturdy madchen was stoically deaf to my remonstrances, and speedily laced me up tightly . . . The daily lacing tighter and tighter produced inconvenience and absolute pain. In a few months, however, I was . . . anxious . . . to have my corsets laced as tightly as a pair of strong arms could draw them."

Between 1867 and 1874 EDM printed dozens of letters on tight-lacing, as well as on topics such as flagellation, high heels, and spurs for lady riders. Later in the century, other periodicals, such as The Family Doctor, published letters and articles on tight-lacing. The notorious "corset correspondence" has been cited by some writers, such as David Kunzle, as evidence of extreme tight-lacing during the Victorian era.

However, most scholars in the early 2000s believe that these accounts represent fantasies. Indeed, by the end of the century, the tight-lacing literature becomes increasingly pornographic, as fetishist themes overlap with sadomasochistic and transvestite scenarios. Such accounts may well indicate the existence in the later nineteenth century of sexual subcultures where corset fetishists (most of whom were probably men) enacted their fantasies in settings such as specialized brothels, where they paid prostitutes to role-play as sadistic governesses. Yet this is a far cry from the use of corsets in ordinary women's lives.

The popular belief that many Victorian women had 16-inch waists is almost certainly false. Corset advertisements in the second half of the nineteenth century usually give waist measurements of 18 to 30 inches, and larger sizes were also available. Within museum costume collections, it is rare to find a corset measuring less than 20 inches around the waist. Moreover, as the author of The Dress Reform Problem (1886) noted, "A distinction should be made between actual and corset measurements, because stays as ordinarily worn, do not meet at the back. Young girls, especially, derive intense satisfaction from proclaiming the diminutive size of their corset. Many purchase 18- and 19-inch stays, who must leave them open two, three, and four inches. 15, 16, and 17 inch waists are glibly chattered about . . . [yet] we question whether it is a physical possibility for women to reduce their natural waist measure below 17 or 18 inches."

This is not to say that women did not use corsets to reduce their waists. Writing in 1866, the English author Arnold Cooley claimed that, "The waist of healthy women . . . is found to measure 28 to 29 inches in circumference. Yet most women do not permit themselves to exceed 24 inches round the waist, whilst tens of thousands lace themselves down to 22 inches, and many deluded victims of fashion and vanity to 21 and even to 20 inches."

The discourse on tight-lacing needs to be analyzed in ways that move beyond simple measurements. Because the practice of tight-lacing was so ill-defined and yet was perceived as being so ubiquitous in the nineteenth century, it became the focus of widespread social anxieties about women.

Tight-lacing disappeared as a social issue with the decline of the corset as a fashionable garment in the early twentieth century. However, there still existed individuals who wore tightly laced corsets. In the mid-twentieth century, Ethel Granger was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having "the world's smallest waist," which measured 13 inches. In the early twenty-first century, the most famous tight-lacer is probably the corsetier Mr. Pearl, who claims to have a 19-inch waist. His friend Cathie J. boasts of having reduced her waist to 15 inches.

See also Corset; Fetish Fashion. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kunzle, David. Fashion and Fetishism. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982. Steele, Valerie. Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. -. The Corset: A Cultural History. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001. Summers, Leigh. Bound to Please. Oxford: Berg, 2001. Ward, E. The Dress Reform Problem: A Chapter for Women. London: Hamilton, Adams, 1886.

Valerie Steele

TOGA The toga was a wrapped outer garment worn in ancient Rome. Its origin is probably to be found in the tebenna, a semicircular mantle worn by the Etruscans, a people who lived on the Italian peninsula in an area close to that occupied by the Romans. Several Roman kings were Etruscan and many elements of Etruscan culture were taken over by the Romans. The toga may have been one of these elements.

The toga was a highly symbolic garment for the Romans. It had numerous forms, but the toga pura or toga virilis was the most significant. In its earliest form the toga pura was a semicircle of white wool.

Etruscan Tebenna
Statue of Emperor Augustus in a toga. The toga, a garment wrapped around the body and over the shoulder, was worn by all ancient Roman men, though larger and longer togas were generally reserved for Romans with status and wealth. © Araldo de Luca/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

At the time of the Roman Republic (509 b.c.e. to 27 b.c.e.) and after, only free male citizens of Rome who were at least sixteen years of age could wear this toga. It was the symbol of Roman citizenship and was required dress for official activities. Men wore togas to audiences with the Emperor and to the games played in the Roman arena.

The toga was worn outermost, over a tunic. (A tunic was a T-shaped woven garment, similar in form to a long, modern T-shirt.) The toga wrapped around the body. The straight edge was placed at the center of the body, perpendicular to the floor. The bulk of the fabric was carried over the left shoulder, across the back and under the right arm, after which it was draped across the chest and over the left shoulder.

By the time of the Roman Empire, the earlier half-circle toga had changed its form and had an extended section added to the semicircle at the straight edge. The system of draping remained the same, however the extended section was first folded down. The overfold section fell at the front of the body and formed a pocketlike pouch, called the sinus, into which the wearer could place objects such as a scroll of paper. As the toga became still more elaborate and larger, the sinus eventually was too open and loose for holding things, so a knot of fabric was pulled up from underneath to form an area called the umbo, and this being smaller and more compact became the "pocket" area. The umbo may also have helped to hold the toga in place.

Individuals of some significant status wore special togas. Although both men and women had worn togas in early Roman times, by the time of the Republic only men wore togas. However, a vestige of the earlier practice remained. Sons and daughters of Roman citizens wore the toga praetexta, a toga with a purple border about two or three inches wide. Boys wore this toga until age fourteen to sixteen when they assumed the toga pura, while girls gave up the garment around the age of puberty. Certain priests and magistrates also wore the toga praetexta.

Political candidates wore a toga candida that was bleached very white. The English word "candidate" derives from the name of this garment.

A toga picta was purple with gold embroidery. Victorious generals and others who had been singled out for special honors were awarded the opportunity to wear this toga. A toga pulla appears to have been worn for mourning, and was dark or black in color. The toga tra-bea seems to have been worn by religious augurs or important officials.

The toga was an awkward garment. Roman writers speak of the difficulties in keeping the toga properly arranged. Apparently it was acceptable for men to wear longer or shorter togas. A poor man might wear a shorter toga in order to save money, while one seeking to impress others might wear an especially large and long toga. In order to keep this garment clean, it had to be washed often, which caused it to wear out frequently. Replacing a worn toga was an expense that is commented on by some Roman satirists.

By the time of the Roman Republic and after, respectable adult women did not wear togas. Prostitutes were said to wear togas, as were women who had been divorced for adultery. The connotation of a woman wearing a toga implied disapproval.

The form of the toga continued to change. It seems as if men were constantly searaching for variations that made the toga easier to keep in place. In one version dating from circa 118-119 c.e. and after, the umbo was eliminated by wrapping the section under the right arm at a higher point and twisting that upper section to form a sort of band. This band was called a balteus. In the third century it was an easy step from this to "the toga with the folded bands."

In the toga with the folded bands, the twisted bal-teus became an overfold that was folded and refolded over itself in order to form a flat, layered band of fabric that may have been fastened in place by either pinning or sewing. As the toga wrapped around the body, the bands lay flat, fitting smoothly in a diagonal band across the front of the body.

In the latter years of the Roman Empire, discipline in following prescribed forms of dress grew somewhat lax, and men preferred to wear the pallium instead of the toga. The pallium itself was an evolved form of a Greek wrapped garment, the himation, which draped much the same way as the toga. The pallium was a rectangular panel of fabric that, like the toga, ran perpendicular to the floor, around the left shoulder, under the right arm, and across the body, draping over the arm. It was a sort of skeletal form of the toga, retaining its draping but losing its semicircular form and most of its bulk.

Although the toga in its exact Roman form has not been revived in contemporary fashion, the name "toga" is often loosely applied to fashions that feature one covered and one uncovered shoulder. Examples include the "toga dress" defined by Calasibetta (2003) as an "Asymmetric dress or at-home robe styled with one shoulder bare, the other covered" or the "toga nightgown," which could be "styled with one shoulder." Both were styles introduced in the 1960s (Calasibetta 2003).

See also Ancient World: History of Dress. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Calasibetta, C. M., and P. Tortora. The Fairchild Dictionary of

Fashion. New York: Fairchild Publications, 2003. Croom, A. T. Roman Clothing and Fashion. Charleston, S.C.:

Tempus Publishing Inc., 2000. Goldman, N. "Reconstructing Roman Clothing." In The World of Roman Costume. Edited by J. L. Sebesta and L. Bonfante, pp. 213-237 Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. Houston, M. G. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Costume.

London: Adam and Charles Black, l966. Rudd, N., trans. The Satires of Horace and Persius. Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books, 1973.

Stone, S. "The Toga: From National to Ceremonial Costume." In The World of Roman Costume. Edited by J. L. Sebesta, and L. Bonfante, pp. 13-45. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. Tortora, P., and K. Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1998.

Wilson, L. M. The Roman Toga. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Press, 1924.

Phyllis Tortora

TOLEDO, ISABEL AND RUBEN Ruben and Isabel Toledo are a husband-and-wife team who work closely together in several fields of fashion. She is a fashion designer known for producing clothing that combines sophisticated simplicity and meticulous craftsmanship. He is a fashion artist whose distinctive drawings have appeared in many fashion publications and whose work extends to designing mannequins and painting murals for fashionable restaurants; Isabel is his muse and almost invariably his model. He also is responsible for managing the business side of her clothing business. Theirs is a true creative partnership; it is impossible to delineate the boundaries of the contribution of each to the work of the other.

Born in Cuba in 1961, Isabel learned to sew as a child, when she was fascinated by her grandmother's sewing machine. She describes Cuban culture as one in which mastering the techniques of fine sewing was an admired accomplishment for women. When she first began designing clothes, she adopted the technique, associated with such great couturieres as Mmes. Grès and Madeleine Vionnet, of working directly with fabric by draping and cutting, designing in three dimensions. Like Claire Mc-Cardell, she works in simple materials such as denim, cotton jersey, and cotton flannel. She describes her garments as forward-looking and optimistic.

Ruben Toledo was born in Cuba in 1960; he and Isabel met in school as members of the large Cuban expatriate community of northern New Jersey. They quickly recognized one another as kindred spirits and began collaborating in art and design. They were married in 1984.

Isabel showed her first collection in 1985 and was immediately acclaimed as an important new talent on the New York fashion scene. Her clothes—architectural, slightly severe, with black or shades of gray dominating her palette—became highly prized by wearers of fashion-forward, "downtown" styles and were praised in such publications as the Village Voice, Paper, and Visionaire. Acquiring a cult following in New York, Paris, and Tokyo, Isabel nevertheless has had difficulties finding sufficient long-term financial backing to break out of niche markets to reach more widespread recognition.

The Toledos had a major exhibition, Toledo/Toledo: A Marriage of Art and Fashion, at the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 1999. Ruben's illustrations reached a wide audience in his witty book, Style Dictionary (1997). In one of his iconoclastic fashion illustrations, entitled "Fashion history goes on strike," Ruben portrayed dresses from the past, from New Look to Mod, parading across the page in a militant demonstration, carrying placards reading, "Let us rest in peace! No more retro! Look forward, not backward!" Both of the Toledos remain on the cutting edge of style, moving fashion forward.

See also Art and Fashion.


Hastreiter, Kim. "Isabel Toledo." Paper (Fall 1998).

Mason, Christopher. "A Pair of Muses, above It All." New York Times (27 February 1997).

Toledo, Isabel and Ruben. Toledo/Toledo: A Marriage of Art and Fashion. Kyoto, Japan: Korinsha Press, 1998. An exhibition catalog.

Toledo, Ruben. Style Dictionary: A Visualization, Exploration, Transformation, Mutation, Documentation, Investigation, Classification, Free-association, Interpretation and Exact Quotations of Fashion Terms and a Collection of Past Works. New York: Abbeville, 1997.

Valerie Steele

TOOSH. See Cashmere and Pashmina.

TRADITIONAL DRESS Traditional dress may be defined as the ensemble of garments, jewelry, and accessories rooted in the past that is worn by an identifiable group of people. Though slight changes over time in color, form, and material are acknowledged, the assemblage seems to be handed down unchanged from the past. Traditional dress or costume is a phrase used widely both by the general public and writers on dress. It conjures up images of rural people dressed in colorful, layered, exotic clothing from an idealized past in some faraway place. This notion of traditional dress has been scrutinized and found inadequate by many researchers and scholars, but its uncritical use continues into the twenty-first century. The phrase traditional dress or costume is often used interchangeably with the terms ethnic, regional, and folk dress. For a concise discussion of this terminology see Welters and for a fascinating look at how the term is used try a Web search on the words "traditional costume."

In Webster's Third International Dictionary, tradition is defined as "an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling or doing: a cultural feature preserved or evolved from the past" (1993, p. 2422; italics by author). The concept of traditional dress as a static form carried over from the past is usually contrasted with the rapidly changing fashion of "the West." Ethnographers and travelers documenting actual dress practices provided the original data for later interpretation by other researchers. Early social psychologists were primarily concerned with understanding the human element of fashion change, not with the continuity of a particular dress tradition, thus the reference to tradition or custom was usually brief. General studies of folk or traditional costume were geared toward showing the diversity and splendor of peoples of the world while more recent, specific studies tend toward more historical and cultural analysis. Tarrant asks the pertinent questions, "What tradition?" and "How old is tradition?" (p. 153), questions that are essential for studying and analyzing the cultural and historic aspects of dress.

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