New Optical Identities

In the early 1980s, the trend to harder-edged styles in black and bright colors coincided with the revival of Ray-Ban's Wayfarer style, which was given a high profile by the Blues Brothers, the 1983 film Risky Business, and the TV series Miami Vice. Heavy black sunglasses with conspicuous designer logos harmonized with the era's penchant for "power dressing," and similar flashy styles were reproduced for every price range. Oddly shaped, futuristic "new wave" styles were another trend, and the mirrored aviator style was revived once again by the 1986 film Top Gun. High-tech "performance" styles designed specifically for outdoor sports, by makers such as Vuar-net and Revo, first became popular in the 1980s, and started a craze for iridescent mirrored lenses.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, in sunglasses as in eyeglasses, minimalism, industrial design, and revivals of earlier styles were the dominant themes. Designer logos fell out of favor early in the decade, and pared-down fashion and hairstyles required clean-lined, sleek frames with meticulous detailing. New sports styles by Oakley, so close-fitting that they seemed to merge with the face, were popularized by athletes such as Michael Jordan and Olympic speed-skater Bonnie Blair. These high-tech glasses, using novel materials such as magnesium alloy and gold iridium, were highly influential, and began to blur the line between sports and fashion eyewear.

At the turn of the century, sunglasses are more important than ever as an individual fashion statement, but there is no dominant style, unless it is "freedom of choice." After a series of "retro" revivals, and trends started by musical celebrities, avant-garde designers, athletes such as Lance Armstrong, the NASCAR circuit, and films such as The Matrix, the sunglass market has fractured into many specialized niches. An unprecedented variety of designer collections is available to choose from in the early 2000s, and larger makers such as Ray-Ban feature several smaller "themed" collections, each with its own distinct aesthetic. Over the course of the twentieth century, sunglasses have become an essential part of the fashion and image-making vocabulary, and they seem likely to continue to fill this role in the future.

See also Eyeglasses.


Baker, Russell. "Observer—New Upward Movement in Clothing." New York Times (16 June 1964): 38. Evans, Mike, ed. Sunglasses. New York: Universe, 1996. Brief, popular introduction. Warren, Virginia Lee. "Dark Glasses After Dark: For the Eyes or Ego?" New York Times (10 Dec. 1964): 66.

Internet Resources

Foster Grant. "Foster Grant History." Available from

<>. Ray-Ban. "Ray-Ban History." Available from

<>. Whitman, Anne. "Retro-Specs." Eyecare Business. December 1999. Available from <>.

Susan Ward

SUPERMODELS "Supermodel" ranks with "genius" and "original" as one of the most-abused terms in the fashion lexicon. Indeed, it has been so overused that by the late 1990s, when the Supermodel phenomenon (personified by larger-than-life mannequins such as Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington) had long-since peaked and passed, the word had lost almost all meaning, becoming a generic gossip-column descriptive promiscuously pinned on almost any fashion model with, or in some cases, merely wanting, a public profile.

Though many claimed to have coined the term, notably the 1970s model Janice Dickinson, the first recorded use of the word was in a 1948 book, So You Want to Be a Model! by a small-time model agent named Clyde Matthew Dessner. It came into more general usage in 1981, when New York magazine published "The Spoiled Supermodels," in which Anthony Haden-Guest, the incisive British journalist, chronicled the myriad misbehaviors of highly paid models and photographers in the cocaine-clouded world of post-Studio-54 New York City.

In pure terms, there had been supermodels long before that—at least, if supermodels are defined, as they properly should be, as mannequins whose renown and activities stretch beyond the bubble-world of fashion.

Supermodels don't just look the part—they have to live it. The earliest one was probably Anita Colby, who began her career in the 1930s as a model with the Conover Agency in New York, but was soon lured to Hollywood where, in 1944, she served as ringleader of a gang of models who co-starred with Rita Hayworth in the big-budget film, Cover Girl. Colby's success in publicizing the film—she arranged an average three magazine cover stories per cover girl—won her a job as image consultant for the great producer, David O. Selznick, an appearance on the cover of Time magazine, a recurring spot on the Today Show (where a young Barbara Walters

Young Barbara Walters

Designer Gianni Versace and supermodels. Fashion designer Gianni Versace stands amidst models (From left: Unknown, Unknown, Shalom Harlow, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta) for his autumn-winter 1996-1997 haute-couture collection. © Photo B.D.V./Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

Designer Gianni Versace and supermodels. Fashion designer Gianni Versace stands amidst models (From left: Unknown, Unknown, Shalom Harlow, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta) for his autumn-winter 1996-1997 haute-couture collection. © Photo B.D.V./Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

wrote her scripts), and marriage proposals from Clark Gable and James Stewart.

The 1940s and 1950s were dominated by the supermodel sisters Dorian Leigh and Suzy Parker. Leigh, the older sister, lived large; she had affairs with Harry Bela-fonte, Irving Penn, and the Marquis de Portago, and a two-day marriage to drummer Buddy Rich; she founded two modeling agencies, and gave Martha Stewart her first job when she owned a catering business. Sister Suzy Parker, best known as photographer Richard Avedon's muse, was also a gossip column staple and a Hollywood star before she settled into domesticity as the wife of actor Bradford Dillman.

The next generation of supermodels was led by Britons Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. Shrimpton had the good fortune to hook up with David Bailey, the best of a batch of trendsetting British photographers known as the Terrible Trio, just as the 1960s were getting started. She was a pouty-lipped, saucer-eyed, eighteen-year-old modeling school graduate; he was a twenty-three-year-old East End rake-in-the-making. Together, they kicked off the Youthquake before he went on to marry actress Catherine Deneuve, and she to an affair with actor Terence Stamp and an appearance on the cover of Newsweek.

A year later, The Shrimp was replaced by a Twig, or rather Leslie Hornby, a.k.a Twiggy, who catapulted to worldwide fame (and another Newsweek cover) with the help of a hairdresser at Vidal Sassoon who called himself Justin de Villeneuve. Twiggy was the first model to gain a profile outside fashion before making the jump into film. But she was also a comet—by 1968, she'd burned out. In 1971, she made a comeback as an actress, but despite some success, never again saw super-stardom. "I used to be a thing," she said in 1993. "I am a person now" (Gross, p. 183).

By then, of course, many other women had donned the rainments of the supermodel, only to be disrobed by a public eager for the next new...thing. Thanks to a lift from Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, Cheryl Tiegs revived the poster girl, and the supermodel phenomenon, when she crossed over from fashion into the worlds of the pinup and then the eponymous product marketer—a trajectory many wanna-be "supes" would follow thereafter. Hers wasn't the only path to stardom. Janice Dickinson made it by doffing her clothes at every opportunity, Iman by hooking up with the socialite photographer Peter Beard, who billed her as fresh out of the African bush, even though she was the educated daughter of a diplomat.

Elle Macpherson Married

Supermodels. Naomi Campbell, Elle MacPherson, and Claudia Schiffer (left to right) pose for a picture at the opening of New York's Fashion Café in 1995. These women, and a few other top models, are known as supermodels on account of their celebrity status. © Mitchell Gerber/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

Supermodels. Naomi Campbell, Elle MacPherson, and Claudia Schiffer (left to right) pose for a picture at the opening of New York's Fashion Café in 1995. These women, and a few other top models, are known as supermodels on account of their celebrity status. © Mitchell Gerber/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

Christie Brinkley parlayed her moment into several decades, and in the early 2000s is a star-billed political activist. Patti Hansen and Jerry Hall married Rolling Stones and became celebrities through sexual association. But that path to staying power didn't always lead to the same destination. After Elaine Irwin married rocker John Mellencamp, she fell from view, apparently content to be a wife and mother.

Irwin was one of ten supermodels photographed for Harper's Bazaar by Patrick Demarchelier in 1992, the peak of Supermodeldom. With her in the picture were Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Yasmeen Ghauri, Karen Mulder, Claudia Schiffer, Niki Taylor, and Tatjana Patitz. Along with Helena Christensen, Stephanie Seymour, and later, Kate Moss, this baker's dozen formed the core of the real Supermodel Corps, aided and abetted by image-conscious designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, and Gianni Versace, photographers such as Patrick De marchelier, Peter Lindberg, and Steven Meisel, and the Parisian model agent Gerald Marie. All of their behind-the-scenes machinations helped create the supermodel moment.

Each, in his own way, had seen a window of opportunity open in 1987, when fashion's excesses of the preceding ten years, followed hard by a stock-market crash on Wall Street, and a worldwide recession, put an end to the designer decade that had been launched along with Calvin Klein jeans back in the pre-super 1970s. When the pouf dress—symbol of those heady days— went pop, the air went out of fashion and designers lost their way, just at the moment when the mass market seemed to have discovered them. The supermodels were used as a placeholder, a distraction, a way to keep the attention of the audience focused on fashion, while behind the scenes, the designers scurried around looking for a new message better suited to their times and their greatly expanded audience. Only problem was the supes soon became the tail that wagged the dog of fashion.

But truth be told, they couldn't sustain their "suzerainity." By 1995, the public had tired of the supes and were ready for something, anything, else. The fashion business was tired of them, too. They were too demanding, too expensive (Evangelista had famously remarked that she wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000; by 1995, that price had risen to $25,000), too overexposed. The shelf life of models is generally seven years. The supermodels were pert nose up against their use-by date. "I won't use her," as designer Todd Oldham said of Campbell, then the worst behaved of the lot (Gross, p. 438).

In 1996, just in time, a new model movement came along. The small, unassuming girls who were newly in favor were called waifs, and they dressed in a style with the un-appealing name, grunge. Unfortunately, although it did take to Kate Moss, the last of the era's supermodels, the public didn't go along with the rest of the trend, and soon enough a new crop of larger-than-life models appeared. But fashion had been downsized—and they were too. Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow made a run for the top but fell short. In their wake came other girls (for that's what the business calls them, even though they are its representation of womanhood), but few supes. Had you asked a boy tossing a football in Indiana to name the supermodels of 2003, he would probably say Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum (both stars of the ad campaigns run by Victoria's Secret, which replaced Sports Illustrated's bathing suit issue as the source of all fashion knowledge for American men)...and then he would pause, searching for more names but not finding them.

Which means that as surely as long hems follow short ones, the time is probably nigh for the return of the supermodel.

See also Fashion Models; Grunge; Twiggy.


Conover, Carole. Cover Girls: The Story of Harry Conover. En-glewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978.

Gross, Michael. Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. New York: William Morrow, 1995.

Leigh, Dorian, with Laura Hobe. The Girl Who Had Everything: The Story of "The Fire and Ice Girl." Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980.

Moncur, Susan. They Still Shoot Models My Age. London: Serpent's Tail, 1991.

Sims, Naomi. How To Be A Top Model. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Michael Gross

SWEATER The knitted sweater is a staple garment of everyday clothing, being functional, versatile, and fashionable. The hand-knitted "shirts" and "waistcoats," worn as underclothing by both rich and poor from the seventeenth century, can be linked to the "gansey" or "jersey" worn by fishermen and sailors of the British Isles and Scandinavia from the mid-nineteenth century. With the emergence of machine production, the functional, fitted woolen sweater was adopted for sailors' uniforms in 1881, and continues as standard issue for navy and army personnel into the early 2000s.

By the end of the nineteenth century, fashionable clothing had become more relaxed as outdoor and leisure pursuits grew in popularity, cumbersome multiple layers reduced, and knitted underwear transformed into outerwear. Fashionable young men increasingly took up sports activities, and the masculine "sweater" (a close-fitting, knitted undergarment for absorbing sweat generated by exercise) was soon adopted by women.

The growing emancipation of women saw their participation in sports such as golf, tennis, and cycling, and, together with the bifurcated "bloomer," the fitted sweater formed an outfit which gave unprecedented freedom of movement. The publication of instruction booklets for knitting designs fostered the rapid spread of new sweater fashions.

The evolving forms of the sweater have become symbolic of their time. During the 1920s and 1930s, key events influenced the sweater in fashionable dress: Coco Chanel's use of knitted jersey fabric (inspired by men's sweaters) for relaxed but sophisticated style; the Fair Isle patterned pullover worn by the Prince of Wales; Elsa Schiaparelli's famous trompe l'oeil hand-knitted sweaters; and the jazz age of F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby. The jumper-knitting craze that followed World War I's "knitting for victory" inspired several popular songs. Long lean "jazz jumpers" (both homemade and store bought) helped to define the softer, boyish silhouette of the "flapper" era.

The intricate tailored hand knits of wartime thrift; the glamorous styles and provocative image of the Hollywood

This il tin funtom

Schiaparelli sweater. The sweater is a versatile garment that has been adapted for a wide variety of fashions. Elsa Schiaparelli's "bow-knot" sweater was a hit in 1920s America and stands as one of her most famous designs. From "Shocking Life" by Elsa Schiaparelli, copyright 1954 by Elsa Schiaparelli. Used by permission of Dutton, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

"sweater girls" of the 1940s; golfing argyle-patterned sweaters, and the twin set of classic sophistication, (produced, for example, by Pringle of Scotland), have all become standards. The black polo-neck sweater of the avant-garde and the beatnik's "sloppy Joe" mohair sweater of the 1950s; the growth of Italian style and casual wear in the 1960s, and the ravaged punk sweater of the 1970s, have also become iconic.

Pioneered by British designers such as Patricia Roberts, Artwork, and Joseph, the craft revival of the 1970s and 1980s transformed the hand-knitted sweater with multiple colors, pictorial or graphic patterning, and intricate stitchery. "Designer knitting" strongly influenced the development of technology for more complex mass-produced sweaters. In Europe, Missoni and Kenzo applied new color, texture, and proportion to high-fashion sweater dressing, exploiting jacquard technology to the fullest. Krizia created a popular range of animal-patterned sweaters that became a signature in each successive collection. Sonia Rykiel, Vivienne Westwood, and later Clements Ribeiro recolored traditional sweaters in stripes and argyle pattern variations. By the mid 1990s, the knitwear designs of Missoni and Rykiel were again popular as revival fashion reinterpreted earlier periods. At the more commercial end of the fashion spectrum, Benetton focused on color and universal appeal for its low-priced knitwear, which, through global branding and retailing, made basic knitwear accessible, fashionable, and fun. In the twenty-first century, a wide range of machinemade sweaters regularly feature in high-fashion collections of such as Prada, Armani, and Donna Karan. Oversized, dramatic, and elaborate hand-knitted sweaters are a focus of Dior, Gaultier, and Alexander McQueen couture collections. As knitting technology advances, the

This il tin funtom

Schiaparelli sweater. The sweater is a versatile garment that has been adapted for a wide variety of fashions. Elsa Schiaparelli's "bow-knot" sweater was a hit in 1920s America and stands as one of her most famous designs. From "Shocking Life" by Elsa Schiaparelli, copyright 1954 by Elsa Schiaparelli. Used by permission of Dutton, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

sweater remains integral to fashion and a basic garment capable of infinite variation.

See also Casual Dress; Knitting.


Black, Sandy. Knitwear in Fashion. London: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 2002. A comprehensive and well-illustrated overview of design developments in contemporary fashion knitwear from the 1970s to 2002. Also included: knitting in accessories, interiors, artworks, and performance. Reference section includes technology of knitting and designer biographies.

Macdonald, Anne L. No Idle Hands. The Social History of American Knitting. New York: Ballantine Books, 1988. A detailed social history reflecting the role of women in American history from colonial times to the 1980s. The relationship of women in society is expressed through the craft of knitting and traced through changing times and fashions.

Rutt, Richard. A History of Hand Knitting. London: B. T. Bats-ford, Ltd., 1987; Loveland, Colo.: Interweave Press, 2003. An excellent guide to the history and development of hand knitting as a domestic craft, from the sixteenth century. It begins with definitions and techniques, with a unique chronology of the publication of knitting patterns. British knitting is covered comprehensively, with American and Eastern traditions included.

Wright, Mary. Cornish Guernseys and Knit-Frocks. London: Ethno-graphica, 1979. A well-researched account of traditional work wear in Cornwall with a collection of knitting patterns.

Sandy Black

SWEATSHIRT According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the word "sweatshirt" materialized in 1925. It denoted a collarless, long-sleeved, oversize pullover made of thick fleecy cotton. The earliest sweatshirts were gray utilitarian gear that athletes wore while training for traditional sports. Sweatshirts not only provided warmth, but as their name revealed, they also possessed the functional ability to induce and absorb sweat during exercise.

The design of the sweatshirt evolved to include the zipper front "hoodie"—first marketed by Champion Athletic wear for football players to use on the sidelines. Sweatshirts with matching pants ("sweat pants") created an ensemble known as the jog suit, track suit, or sweatsuit, and they became widely popular in the 1970s along with the craze for jogging. Contemporary derivatives ranging from short-sleeved or sleeveless sweatshirts to "sweatskirts" and the development of high-tech materials with better insulation and increased comfort offer proof of the sweatshirt's continuous ability to adapt to the needs of the wearer.

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