Product placement – a modern invention?

Haute couture and the decorative arts, magazines, the theatre, vaudeville shows and eventually film, have strutted and vogued down the business catwalk, manicured hand in designer glove since the 1860s.  Product placement is thought to be a modern invention, commonplace in contemporary television and film, but was invented by the fashion industry and they had perfected it by the turn of the twentieth century.  By the early 1900s most haute couture houses had a company of models that were dressed in the latest collection and sent to: the races, the opera, art exhibitions, the theatre, the best restaurants in Paris and any other events where the privileged and wealthy attended.  Fashions were even displayed in the foyers of theatres.  The Folies Bergére became the indicator as to which direction the couture houses would follow.  A classic example was the play “Rue du la Paix”, with a flimsy plot as an excuse to parade models through a sequence of scenes displaying Paul Iribe’s designs created by Paquin.  It was universally slammed by critics and lampooned by theatre goers but was highly successful with wealthy socialite women of the time. 

Poiret was the first to film one of his shows for screening throughout the world, thus enabling him to travel further abroad and reducing his costs considerably.  All of the haute couture houses also had intimate links with magazine illustrators of the time, in fact many designers were trained illustrators and attended the Écoles du Beaux-Arts.  In conjunction with magazines of the day like Gazette du Bon Ton and Les Modes the fashion houses steered popular taste in clothing and home décor.

With this new found knowledge I changed the premise of the collection to be: to create 10 gowns of felt and silk, with each gown representing some interesting aspect that has in some way reflected the metableticnature of history.  This epiphany in itself was metabletic as it brought together several of my passions, that of textiles (of course), couture fashion, film in its various forms, history and making beautiful garments.

Author: Soosie

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