Becoming a Professional Fashion Designer

Become a Professional Fashion Designer

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As the latest technologies were incorporated into skiwear, leading brands faced fierce competition to market a new wonder fiber or design feature. During the 1980s branding with logos became increasingly common, and the choice of clothing was almost bewildering. Fashion was also of prime importance and manufacturers such as Killy, Luhta, Head, Elho, and Ocean Pacific styled their outfits to complement the latest trends. Fluorescent colors, soft pastel shades, and striking abstract and animal designs were all featured. A casual "winter surf" look emerged among young winter sports enthusiasts. One-piece suits were often zipped at the waist for more ver-

Public Domain Images Innovation
Two women model ski clothing, 1929. During the 1920s, trousers became a rapidly accepted form of women's ski clothing, an equality in clothing that was not reflected in attire outside of the sport. Public domain.

satility, and bib pants (known as salopettes in the United Kingdom) became an increasingly important component of the jacket-and-pants combination. The popularity of sportswear for leisurewear also meant that ski pants and quilted jackets made their way into the high street.

In the new millennium, the booming snowboarding industry and rise of extreme winter sports have encouraged skiwear manufacturers to emphasize innovation. Fabrics with ever increasing property and performance tolerances such as "soft shell" constructions with welded waterproof zips, jackets with inflatable insulating air pockets, and seam-free underwear promise to transform the skiing experience. The increasing use of helmets and the incorporation of body armor into skiwear, including back protectors and built-in lumbar supports, have improved safety on the slopes. Competition has also encouraged manufacturers to diversify, focusing on specific "looks" for different styles of skiing and ensuring that more components of the outfit than ever before can be worn on or off the slopes.

See also Sportswear.


A-Z Ski Fashion and Equipment Guide. London: Hill, 1988.

Loring, Maggie. Skiing. Camden, Me., and London: Ragged Mountain Press/McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Lunn, Sir Arnold. A History of Skiing. London: Humphrey Mil-ford, 1927.

Scharff, Robert. SKI Magazine's Encyclopedia of Skiing. New York and London: Harper and Row, 1976. Skiing International Yearbook. New York: Periodical Publications, 1965.

Lucy Johnston

SKIRT The skirt, the lower part of a gown or robe that covers the wearer from waist downward, has been called "the simplest and most obvious of garments" by John Flügel (p. 35). He theorized that "tropical" skirts, which developed as a class of clothing distinct from "arctic" bifurcated forms, had certain advantages: "Instead of being supported on just two legs with nothing but thin air between them, a skirted human being assumes much more ample and voluminous proportions . . . often with great increase of dignity" (p. 35).

In Western culture, both genders long exploited the skirt's inherent characteristics, but since the sixteenth century a true skirt has not been a feature of standard masculine dress (if, with Anne Hollander [1994], one excepts the male kilt as a survival of drapery). The skirt separated from the dress bodice in the early sixteenth century; shortly thereafter "skirt" became synonymous with a woman, at first as standard English and then as slang in the nineteenth century. The skirt had become the defining female garment.

For several centuries feminine skirts were often very full, worn over petticoats, and sometimes supported by understructures and lengthened with trains. According to Hollander, shrouded legs visually confused rather than explained the structure of the female body. An inherent dichotomy was imagined between women's mysterious skirted forms—that included no type of bifurcated garment, not even as underwear—and tightly garbed trousered males, as illustrated by the furor over the Bloomer fashion of the 1850s.

While expansive and expensive skirts of previous eras may have demonstrated women's abstinence from productive employment, the slimmer line of the early twentieth century was restrictive in other ways, culminating in the "hobble skirt" of about 1910. Mobility, however, triumphed in the 1920s as skirts shortened to reveal women's legs. A new statement in the continuous dialogue between modesty and sexual attractiveness, the shortened skirt was, Hollander believes, "the most original modern contribution to feminine fashion accomplished without recourse to the standard male vocabulary" (p. 146).

For much of the rest of the twentieth century, hemlines served as the primary indicator of fashionability, al ternating higher and lower, from extravagantly long New Look skirts to scanty miniskirts and "micro-minis." To explain seemingly quixotic hemlines, inventive (if unsubstantiated) theories linked short skirts with high stock prices. By the 1970s pants increasingly comprised an accepted part of women's wardrobes. In The Woman's Dress for Success Book, however, John T. Molloy, advised businesswomen to avoid what he called the "imitation man look," by wearing skirted suits with the hem length fixed at slightly below the knee, thus "taking a major step toward liberation from the fashion industry" (p. 51). Since that time, however, the array of feminine skirts has only gotten more eclectic—slit, tight, see-through, or full in any length from floor to crotch. Short skirts remain a way to attract attention, whether admiring or outraged. Flaunting legs under an abbreviated skirt has been interpreted as a form of feminine empowerment.

Wearing a skirt has become a choice for women, and since the 1990s even a rare and provocative masculine sub-fashion. Yet the tenacity of this garment as a female signifier is evidenced by standardized international gender symbols: with no innate anatomical basis for the skirt of one figure, cultural conditioning makes her femininity instantly indisputable.

See also Bloomer Costume; Crinoline; Miniskirt. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bolton, Andrew. Bravehearts: Men in Skirts. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2003.

Flügel, John Carl. The Psychology of Clothes. London: Hogarth Press, 1930.

Hollander, Anne. Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994.

Molloy, John T. The Woman's Dress for Success Book. New York: Warner Brooks; Chicago: Follet Publishing Co., 1977.

Tarrant, Naomi. The Development of Costume. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland, 1994.

H. Kristina Haugland

SKIRT SUPPORTS The skirt, for centuries the defining feminine garment in Western fashion, can be expanded to increase the wearer's apparent size and thereby her importance and dignity. Skirts are often given volume by cloth petticoats, but stiffer structures are more effective and may be lighter and more comfortable; when exaggerated, however, these supports can become amazingly encumbering. Skirts have been supported at the back by bustles, while extended skirt circumferences have been produced by farthingales in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, paniers in the eighteenth century, and crinolines or hoop skirts in the mid-nineteenth century.

Around 1470, fashionable Spanish women began to hold their skirts out with bands of heavy cord or rope in casings on the outside of their skirts. From this, a sepa rate hooped underskirt developed that abstracted a woman's legs into a seemingly motionless cone shape. By the 1540s this fashion had spread to other countries, including England, where it was known as the verdingale or farthingale, derived from the Spanish verdugo, a type of flexible twig also used as hoops for skirts. This conical skirt, called the Spanish farthingale, stiffened with whalebone, wire, or other material, became very wide in the early 1580s. About his time, women's hips began to be augmented by padded rolls, altering the skirt silhouette into a shape termed the French farthingale. By the 1590s, French farthingales could take the form of a wheel or drum that held the skirt out from the waist at right angles. Exclusive to the upper classes, these supports magnificently displayed rich, heavy skirt fabric, which, as authority Janet Arnold shows, was fit in place by a servant who pinned in a horizontal fold to form a ruff-like flounce at the top of the skirt. Farthingales began to go out of fashion in England in the late 1610s, but the style lasted somewhat longer in France, and as Spanish court dress it continued into the 1660s.

The wish to distend the skirt returned in the early eighteenth century. By about 1710, fashionable skirts were supported by devices called hoop-petticoats or hoops in England and paniers (baskets) in France. These structures were at first dome-shaped, but by mid-century were usually flattened front to back into an oval or took the form of separate side or "pocket" hoops; they were typically of stiff fabric reinforced by hoops of whalebone, wood, or cane, but could be open frameworks of metal or other material. Hoops were usually modestly sized for informal wear, but often reached over six feet from side to side for formal occasions, necessitating some skillful maneuvering such as going sideways through doors. While large hoops were labeled monstrous by some, others believed they gave women elegance and grace, and ensured each was physically distinct. Extreme hoop-petticoats also distinguished the elite who wore them, functioning, according to Henry Fielding, as an "Article of Distinction" between classes.

Although they were going out of style by the 1770s, large paniers continued to be de rigueur at the French court until the revolution of 1789. Just as the earlier farthingale had fossilized as Spanish court dress, side hoops were retained until 1820 at the English court, worn anachronistically with high-waisted neo-classical dresses. Skirt supports may have been intended to bestow dignity and grace, but the result was sometimes antithetical: in The Art of Dress (p. 123), Aileen Ribeiro cites an early nineteenth century observation that a behooped lady stuffed into a sedan chair "does not ill resemble a foetus of a hippopotamus in its brandy bottle."

See also Bustle; Crinoline; Skirt. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of

Clothes for Men and Women, c1560-1620. London: Macmil-

lan, 1985.

-. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'dLeeds, U.K.: W. S.

Maney, 1988.

Cunnington, C. Willett and Phillis. The History of Underclothes. London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1951 (new edition revised by

A. D. Mansfield and Valerie Mansfield published in London by Faber and Faber, 1981).

Ewing, Elizabeth. Dress and Undress : A History of Women's Underwear. London: Bibliophile, 1978. Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France, 1750-1820 New Haven, Conn., and London: Yale University Press, 1995. -. Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe, 1715-1789. London:

Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1954.

H. Kristina Haugland

SLIP Petticoats or underskirts have been used for centuries to support the various shapes of the skirt, add warmth, and protect outer garments. Since the seventeenth century the word slip was occasionally used for certain garments worn under sheer dresses, but the forerunner of the modern slip originated in the late nineteenth century, when the petticoat was combined with a chemise or corset cover to form a one-piece, fitted, sleeveless undergarment. Because this garment used a princess cut, which shaped the bodice and skirt by vertical seaming, it was called a "princess petticoat" or "princess slip." In the early twentieth century, it came to be called a costume slip, and then merely a slip.

As an underdress or underskirt, a slip provides a middle layer that mediates between underwear and outerwear. Among its functions, a slip can make transparent garments more modest and eliminate rubbing and unsightly clinging. Originally slips were of daintily trimmed cotton or occasionally of silk, although by the 1920s rayon was widely used. The straight-cut tubes of that period gave way to more fitted slips that accentuated the figure. In the mid-twentieth century, newly invented nylon was preferred since it was washable, drip dry, required no ironing, and was also inexpensive and colorfast. Advertisements stressed that slips were durable, shadow-proof, and cut to never embarrassingly ride up. Good taste demanded that a slip be long enough—ideally exactly one inch shorter than the outer garment—but never show at the hem. For all their opaque respectability, slips were molded to the contour of the body, often daintily decorated, and ordinarily hidden from view, giving them a certain eroticism. Films and publicity photographs of stars and starlets of the time exploited the allure of the slip, most famously on Elizabeth Taylor in the 1958 film version of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

With the general reduction of underwear in the 1960s some full slips incorporated bras while half-slips, bright colors, and patterns became increasingly popular.

As skirt hems rose, slip lengths shortened, but they remained provocative garments. In 1962 Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl advised would-be flirts that showing a bit of lovely lingerie is sexy, citing a girl whose "beautiful half-slips (she has them in ten colors) always peek-a-boo a bit beneath her short sheath skirts when she sits down" (p. 78). Nevertheless, in the following decades slips came to be associated with prudish and frumpy older women. A candid photograph from 1980 caught Lady Diana Spencer, the shy young fiancée of the Prince of Wales, in a lightweight skirt against the sun, revealing the outline of her legs and her relinquishment of this once mandatory undergarment.

The slip, however, was reborn as a result of the "underwear as outerwear" phenomenon of the early 1990s. The "slip dress" became a nostalgic yet daring fashion favorite, edgily imbued with the frisson of lingerie. Its revealing cut, lightweight fabric, and spaghetti straps precluded supportive undergarments, requiring a toned body and a confident attitude. As slip dresses became more popular, they were made more practical by women and even designers who layered them over white T-shirts, completing the slip's transmutation from undergarment to outergarment.

See also Lingerie; Nylon; Petticoat. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brown, Helen Gurley. Sex and the Single Girl. New York: B. Geis Associates, 1962. Reprint, Fort Lee, N.J.: Barricade Books, 2003.

Cunnington, C. Willett, and Phillis Cunnington. The History of Underclothes. London: Michael Joseph Ltd., 1951. Reprint, London: Faber and Faber, 1981. Ewing, Elizabeth. Dress and Undress: A History of Women's Underwear. London: Bibliophile, 1978.

H. Kristina Haugland

SMITH, PAUL Paul Smith is renowned for classic garments that also demonstrate a discreet eccentricity that is essentially as British as his name. Committed to the idea of creative independence, he is Britain's most commercially successful designer, with a turnover of £230 million and retail outlets in forty-two countries.

Born in the city of Nottingham in 1946, he left school at age fifteen and began his career running errands in a fashion warehouse. When he was only seventeen, he was instrumental in the success of a local boutique, running the men's wear department and sourcing labels that were previously unavailable outside of London. In 1970 he opened his first shop, a three-meter-square room at the back of a tailor's space, together with a basement that he turned into a gallery, where he sold limited edition lithographs by Warhol and Hockney. He recalled,

I had ... [m]odern classics you couldn't get anywhere else. I knew that ... if I started selling clothes that I didn't like, but that lots of people did want, then the job would have changed me. I called the boutique Paul Smith as a reaction to the silly names ... [of] the time (Fogg, p. 130).

Smith began manufacturing and retailing shirts, trousers, and jackets under his own label, and in 1976 he showed for the first time in Paris. The opening of the first Paul Smith store in London's Covent Garden in 1979 coincided with a resurgence in the money markets of the city and subsequent changes in social attitudes. His suits for men became standard wear for the 1980s young urban professional, the "yuppie." "Young people were willing to wear suits and were not embarrassed about saying that they had money. That was what the 1980s were all about and my clothes reflected the times" (Smith p. 148). Smith's amalgamation of traditional tailoring skills with a witty and subversive eye for detail, together with his quirky use of color and texture, allowed his customers the reassurance that it was permissible to be fashion conscious without being outrageous. It was this particular brand of Britishness that appealed to the Japanese market, where Smith has a £212 million retail business of more than 240 shops. As the Paul Smith style infiltrated mainstream retail chains on the High Street, his company developed a stronger fashion emphasis, and in 1993 he introduced a women's wear collection.

An important element of Smith's shops has always been his ability to source quirky and idiosyncratic objects to sell alongside the clothes. With the opening of the Westbourne Grove shop in London's Notting Hill Gate in 1998, he introduced another retail concept, that of the shop as home, and he has diversified into home furnishings. Smith has always been concerned that each shop is individual and reflects the unique quality of the city in which it is placed, rather than presenting a homogeneous ideal that is brand- and marketing-led. In the year 2000 Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to the British fashion industry.

See also Suit, Business; Tailored Suit; Tailoring. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fogg, Marnie. Boutique: A '60s Cultural Phenomenon. London:

Mitchell Beazley, 2003. Smith, Paul. You Can Find Inspiration in Anything: (And If You Can't, Look Again!). London: Violette Editions, 2001.

Marnie Fogg

SMITH, WILLI Born Willi Donnell Smith in Philadelphia on 29 February 1948, Smith studied fashion illustration at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art from 1962 to 1965 and continued his studies in fashion design at the Parsons School of Design in New York

City from 1965 to 1967. He died at age thirty-nine on 17 April 1987. According to Liz Rittersporn of the New York Daily News, he was the most successful black designer in fashion history.

On leaving college, Smith worked as a fashion illustrator with Arnold Scaasi for several years. From 1967 to 1976 he also worked as a freelance designer for companies such as Bobbi Brooks and Digits Inc. He specialized in sportswear, injecting an element of playfulness into functional garments such as the jump suit that he cut out of silver-coated cloth. In 1976 he and Laurie Mallet, who subsequently became president of the company, established the successful label WilliWear Limited, which captured the spirit of pragmatic leisurewear. Together they launched a collection of clothes consisting of thirteen silhouettes in soft cotton, manufactured in India and sold in New York. Such was the demand for the relaxed styling and affordable clothes of the label that the company's revenue grew from $30,000 in its first year to $25 million in 1986.

In 1978 Smith added a men's wear collection, and in 1986 he designed the navy, linen, double-breasted suit worn by Edwin Schlossberg for his marriage to Caroline Kennedy, together with the violet linen blazers and white trousers worn by the groom's party. He was, however, primarily a designer of women's wear. From its origins in a single New York store, the company went on to open offices in London (a boutique in St. Christopher's Place), Paris, and Los Angeles, as well as more than a thousand outlets in stores throughout the United States. The Paris store—his first eponymous store— opened posthumously in 1987. Just before his untimely death that year, he expressed his desire to Deny Filmer of Fashion Weekly to see all WilliWear products housed under one roof. "I want my stores to be a little funkier, like, wilder and fun to go into. You know that wonderful feeling when you go into an army surplus store, they have an unpretentious atmosphere. I don't want to push a lifestyle" (p. 7).

Smith's attitude toward fashion was democratic and the antithesis of the ostentatious 1980s. His main concern was that his clothes should be comfortable and affordable. He was dismissive of the edict "dress for success," identifying with the youth cults he saw on the streets of New York and drawing much of his inspiration from them. To this end he provided comfortable, functional clothes in soft fabrics that did not restrict the body in any way. He very often chose Indian textiles for their suppleness, diffused colors, and attractively distressed quality. His clothes were moderately priced, loose-fitting, occasionally oversized separates. Skirts were full and long and jackets oversized, in natural fabrics that wore well and were easy to maintain.

He disliked the pretentiousness of haute couture. "I would love to have a salon and design couture collections, but it's so expensive ... and I hate the theory of 'We the rich can dress up and have fun, and the rest can dress in blazers and slacks.' Fashion is a people thing, and designers should remember that" (Filmer, p. 9).

Smith's obituary in the Village Voice (28 April 1987) by Hilton Als read,

As both designer and person, Willi embodied all that was the brightest, best and most youthful in spirit in his field. ... That a WilliWear garment was simple to care for italicised the designer's democratic urge: to clothe people as simply, beautifully, and inexpensively as possible.

For a brief period after his death, the company continued to function, and it opened its own store on lower Fifth Avenue in New York. In 1996 WilliWear was relaunched, designed by Michael Shulman, and available in T.J. Maxx stores.

Although never an innovator, Willi Smith represented a paradigm of casual American style, creating affordable classic separates. Their functionality and informality was not reliant on overt sexuality or on the status implied by high fashion, and they appealed to a broad spectrum of people. Smith received the Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1983, and New York City designated 23 February as "Willi Smith Day." He was also honored by the Fashion Walk of Fame.

See also Fashion and Identity. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Filmer, Deny. "Just William." Fashion Weekly (London). (12

February 1987). Milbank, Caroline Rennolds. New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989.

Rittersporn, Liz. "Designer Willi Smith Is Dead." New York Daily News (19 April 1987).

Marnie Fogg

SNEAKERS The first athletic shoes were created thousands of years ago to protect the foot from rough terrain when hunting and participating in combat games (Cheskin 1987, pp. 2-3). In Mesopotamia (c. 1600-1200 B.C.E.) soft shoes were worn by the mountain people who lived on the border of Iran. These shoes were constructed with crude tools such as bone needles and stone knives; and made of indigenous materials like leaves, bark, hide, and twine. With the available manufacturing processes and materials, primitive shoes were only constructed as sandals or wraparound moccasins. In a sandal construction the foot is attached to a platform with straps, bands, or loops. A moccasin construction entails a piece of material wrapped under and over the top of the foot then anchored with a drawstring. As sports became more competitive throughout history, athletic shoes needed to perform better and be sport-specific. Functional attributes like weight, flexibility, cushioning, and traction became key features to making successful athletic shoes.

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