Sartorial affluence comes from the various kinds of surplus produced by society.
Fabric woven with gold thread dates back to the period before the birth of Christ, with references to gold threaded textiles in the Old Testament. People in positions of authority have since continued to wear gold and silver threaded fabric either in the form of court costumes or religious ceremonial robes, while women wore dresses made from these fabrics on special occasions.
Gold always glitters and never fades, and this quality, together with the rarity of this metal, made it an effective means of conveying the power, wealth, or charismatic spirituality of the wearer.
Costly silk fabrics were generously used, and manufacturers in towns such as Lyon in France, and Spitalfields in England, vied to produce the finest silk fabrics, resulting in significant growth for the silk textile industry.
Although the decoration was toned down during the 18th Century, skirts flared out to create an almost horizontal silhouette, while hairstyles were the largest and highest seen in history. In addition, battleships, carriages, and baskets of fruit created by the hairdresser were then placed on top of the hair. This excessiveness is a clear sign that the days of aristocratic society were nearing their end.
The style of women’s court wear in Western Europe had remained essentially the same since the coronation of Napoleon in 1804. The court train, which conveys an impression of extravagance and authority, became a standard style in courts all over Europe.
This elegant dress is made of mull with applications of jewel beetle elytra. 1942 of these glistering forewings, with its color oscillating from green to purple, can be found on the dress, 1548 on the shawl.
India was colonized by the British Empire during the mid-18th century, and from the latter half of the 19th century onwards a vast variety of products using jewel beetle embroidery was being exported to the western European markets.
Irish crocheted lace
Lace developed from around the 15th and 16th Centuries, and until lace production was mechanized in the 19th Century, it was highly prized for its exquisite and highly skilled handwork. Lace is made with linen thread using the needlepoint lace and bobbin lace techniques. Until the 18th Century, lace was only used in small but conspicuous sections of clothing such as the collar or cuffs.
This is a crocheted dress featuring Irish crochet lace, which was inspired by needlepoint lace from Spain and Venice and first produced in the 1850s in the convents of Southern Ireland. This style of lace dress became fashionable in Europe in 1905 and remained popular for the decade that followed.
Fashion and Art
Artists such as Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau became involved in fashion during the 1930s. An evening cape designed by Elsa Schiaparelli featured a drawing, inspired by Greek mythology, by Christian Bérard. The image was finished in lavish embroidery by the Lesage embroidery atelier that specialized in haute couture embroidery. The heroic image of Apollo featuring gold and silver beading and sequins is further enhanced by the rich, black velvet background.
Embroidery on evening dresses reached its zenith, both in terms of quality, quantity, and extravagance, during the 1950s, the pinnacle of haute couture. Christian Dior's evening dresses, in particular, were hugely popular amongst upper class women the world over.
This dress is elaborately embroidered with 20 types of beads including sea shells, wooden beads, and animal-teeth-shaped beads. We can see here the very cream of handworks, from the highly advanced and precise techniques of the embroidery studios. In the 1960s, the haute couture created innovative designs, while observing its tradition.
Orientalism was all the rage at the time, influenced in part by performances in Paris by the Ballet Russes. 300 guests were invited to this ball, held in 1911, with everyone wearing Persian costumes, including Poiret, who was dressed as a sultan, adding further color and movement to the festivities.
Pop Art emerged in the United States during the 1960s, in which a wide range of familiar images from daily life was incorporated into art, effectively linking mass culture and the arts.
It is a one-off garment worn by a friend of the artist at the opening of his solo show. In other words, it is a moving work of art created to be viewed. This was the moment when art became incorporated into the everyday activity of wearing clothing.