ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FASHION HISTORY FACTS AND LORE
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 ​​​​​​Release Spring 2022

Alphabetized entries of:
• key milestones in fashion history
• origins of significant historical fashion trends
• global cultural influences
• technological advances in fashion production
• fashion history lore
• anecdotes about famous designers

Examples of each:
(• key milestones in fashion history)
Empire waist
At the end of the eighteenth century, a revival of Neoclassicism in art and architecture profoundly influenced fashion. For women, the new columnar silhouette of gowns and coats featured a high waistline just under the bosom and a narrow tubular skirt in simulation of the ancient Greek chiton. The look was called an Empire waist, named for the era in which Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) reigned as emperor of France.


(• origins of significant fashion trends)
S-bend silhouette
In 1900, French corset maker Inés Gaches-Sarraute introduced a revolutionary new form of corset. Initially called the “health” corset, the idea was to relieve the pressures on a woman’s internal organs caused by the cinching hourglass corsets of the time. Unfortunately, the straight front of the busk created new stresses on the body by thrusting the torso and shoulders forward and the hips back into a pouter pigeon stance. The S-bend profile is the distinct fashion silhouette of the Edwardian era (1900-1910).

(• global cultural influences)
Nehru jacket
In the late 1960s, new forms of men’s suit jackets became alternatives to the traditional Ivy League suit with its V-front opening and notched lapels. The Nehru jacket featured a round, standup collar and longer, tunic-length skirt. The style was named for India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who wore the native sherwani instead of the standard EuroAmerican sack suit. Variations of the Nehru jacket included off-center closures and evening versions in sumptuous brocades and colorful velvets. Instead of a tie, the Nehru jacket was worn with a loosely tied scarf or even a chain pendant.

(• technological advances in fashion production) 
Sewing machine invented
In 1846, American inventor Elias Howe (1819-67) revolutionized apparel manufacturing with his invention of a sewing machine. Although versions of sewing machines had been devised by other inventors as early as the 1790s, Howe developed a machine with the needle eye at the point and an under-thread shuttle that operated beneath the fabric to form a lock stitch. In fashion lore, the idea of the needle eye at the point came to Howe in a nightmare where he was about to be executed by a tribe of warriors and noticed their spears were pierced toward the point. He woke and rushed to his workshop where he developed a needle with an eye at the point. Howe patented his invention for a hand-cranked sewing machine with a horizontal needle. In 1851, Isaac Singer (1811-75) refined the sewing machine by changing the needle to operate vertically and with a foot pedal that freed the hands for better control of the fabric.

(• fashion history lore)
Coat front shirt
Ready-made shirts that buttoned fully down the front like coats were introduced in America in the early 1890s; prior to that, men’s shirts were pullovers with a keyhole neckline fastened with buttons or laces. In fashion lore, the idea of the coat front shirt originated when a New York stage actor tore open his pullover shirt during a quick change between scenes. In frustration, the actor exclaimed that all men’s shirts should be open down the front, and promptly ordered several shirts from his tailor with a buttoned coat front opening. At what point American ready-to-wear makers adopted the idea is unclear but the brand “QuickPutOn Shirts” with a coat front opening was advertised as early as 1894.

(• anecdotes about famous designers)
Scaasi, Arnold (1930-2015)
Fashion designer Arnold Scaasi was born Arnold Isaacs. In 1954, he was commissioned to design eight dresses for models to wear in print ads for Fisher Body, an automobile coachbuilder. In crediting the fashion designer, the ad agency stylist reversed Arnold’s last name to Scaasi to give it an Italian sound. Arnold liked the idea and adopted the name as his brand.