In 1947 Christian Dior's Corolle Line, later dubbed the New Look, heralded the revival of the bouffant skirt, a round crinoline shape with an understructure comprised of several petticoats. The look was incorporated into teenage culture in the 1950s as young women adopted the petticoat and wore several at once—usually of sugar-starched net and paper nylon, or (for evening) taffeta, at least one of which was stiffened with plastic hoops. The look was particularly associated with rock 'n' roll and jiving as the petticoats preserved the dancer's modesty when exhibiting twirls with her male partner. In the 1960s the petticoat disappeared in daywear and, in much the same way as the corset, became the preserve of fetishism. The allure of the petticoat can be explained by the way it exaggerates certain characteristics of the female body, by emphasizing the hips it highlights a fragile waist. It has thus earned a place in fetish culture as a signifier of femininity, and magazines such as Petticoat Discipline allude to the popular cross-dressing scenario of a little boy being forced to parade in front of his family and friends in petticoats as a punishment for some misdemeanor. The frisson of pleasure achieved through shame thus creates a fetishist.
British designer Vivienne Westwood revived the petticoat in the late 1970s and 1980s as a result of theatrical New Romantic dressing and the experiments with the mini-crini. The wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles in 1981 heralded a revival of the nineteenth-century silhouette in bridal design as a result of her crinoline-skirted wedding gown designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel. Thus, the contemporary petticoat is often used as an understructure in women's formal wear, in particular bridal gowns and in outfits worn by female country and western singers; Wynona Judd is associated with this look.
See also Crinoline; Corset; Petticoat; Underwear. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Carter, Alison. Underwear: The Fashion History. London: Bats-ford, 1992.
Cunnington, C. Willet and Phillis. The History of Underclothes.
London: Dover Publications, 1992. Saint-Laurent, Cecil. History of Women's Underwear. London: Academy Editions, 1986.
PIMA COTTON. See Cotton. PINA CLOTH. See Fibers. PINAFORE. See Aprons.
PINS Pins range from the simplest devices used by humanity to some of the most elaborately decorated ornaments. Thorns, bones, and other plant and animal materials have been used for making and fastening garments since Neolithic times. Sumerians used iron and bone pins 5000 years ago. Wealthy Egyptians wore straight bronze pins with decorated heads; by Greek and Roman times the fashion had changed to a clasp or fibula. Medieval pins ranged from simple pieces of wood to ivory and silver, and measured 2.5 to 6 inches. Paris was the center of medieval pin manufacturing; by the seventeenth century, though, pin making was the leading industry of Gloucester, England. Less valuable than needles, metal pins were small luxuries in early modern Europe; pin money was originally a bonus given to a merchant on concluding a deal, for his wife's pins.
By the eighteenth century, pins were made with a division of labor that fascinated both Denis Diderot and Adam Smith because the specialization of workers was helping make a luxury affordable. Steel being too costly and difficult to work, brass wire was drawn at 60 feet per minute by a skilled specialist, then cut into lengths by other workers producing 4,200 pins an hour. Others then sharpened the points and made coiled brass into heads and affixed them, coated the pins with tin, and washed, dried, and polished them. A single worker going through all these stages would have been able to make only a handful of pins a day. Mechanized pin production began in Birmingham, England, in 1838. One of the most celebrated devices of antebellum America, John Howe's 1841 pin machine made a breakthrough in automation by performing the entire sequence of unwinding wire, cutting, grinding, and polishing in a single rotational sequence. It even formed heads by compressing one end of the wire.
Pins were one of the first articles so effectively automated that the challenge shifted from production to packing—especially inserting the pins rapidly and safely in crimped paper cards—and marketing. The card display, developed by Howe, assured customers of the quality of metal, points, and heads. In 1900 U.S. residents used 60 million common pins, or about 126 per capita; old obstacles to working with steel had been overcome. By 1980, a Cambridge University economist estimated that productivity per worker in the British pin industry had increased 167-fold in 200 years.
Perhaps the greatest impact of abundant, cheap, high-quality pins packed in closed cases was on the culture of sewing. Pins no longer had to be protected from theft, loss, and rust. Through peddlers, they were available to every country household, and their profusion helped pincushions reach a decorative peak in the Victorian era. By the early twenty-first century, pins had lost most of their industrial importance; only in luxury production and in-home sewing were they still used to attach patterns to fabric.
See also Brooches and Pins; Needles; Safety Pins. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Andere, Mary. Old Needlework Boxes and Tools. New York: Drake
Publications Ltd., 1971. Gillispie, Charles C., ed. A Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry. Volume 1. New York: Dover Publications,
Inc., 1987. See plates 185-187. Lubar, Steven. "Culture and Technological Design in the Nineteenth-century Pin Industry: John Howe and the Howe
Clair McCardell plaid playsuit. Scottish immigrants brought plaids to North America in the late eighteenth century, and the pattern has since become a popular one in modern design collections. [Model Bijou Barrington in Claire McCardell "romper"], Harper's Bazaar, p46, 1942. Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. © Louise Dahl-Wolfe Archive, Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents. Reproduced by permission.
Manufacturing Company." Technology and Culture 28, no. 2 (April 1987): 253-282.
Petroski, Henry. The Evolution of Useful Things. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
PIQUE. See Weave, Jacquard.
PLAID Checked cloths were evident in many early cultures, however, the term plaid drives from Scottish Celtic culture of around the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Bonfante 1975; Barber 1991; Cheape 1995). The popularity of checked cloths in North America and the use of the word plaid to describe these cloths are almost certainly linked to the influence of Scottish immigrants from the late eighteenth century onward. The term is widely used in North America to describe a diverse range of checked cloths from heavy tartans and tweeds to fresh cotton ginghams. However, within Britain, plaid generally refers to either tartan or checked cloths similar to tartan. It also signifies a length of tartan cloth worn over the shoulder as part of the more elaborate forms of Highland Dress.
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