Category Archives: Fashion History

“La moda española masculina y femenina y su influencia en Puerto Rico. (“Spanish fashion and its influence in Puerto Rico”) Conference panel at the Museum of Ponce.

Hey there!

It has been a long time since I’ve posted (almost two months!) but I have been really busy with plenty of professional development opportunities that have arisen.

One of these is a conference panel I’ll be part of at the Museum of Art of Ponce (Museo de Arte de Ponce), titled “La moda española masculina y femenina y su influencia en Puerto Rico. (“Spanish fashion and its influence in Puerto Rico”). This will be the 29th of March, so those living in Puerto Rico are most welcome to join! It is open to the general public and we’ll be giving a 10-minute presentation, followed by a panel discussion and answering questions from the public.

Here is the link for the Museum’s activities:

And here is a link for the Museum’s latest exhibition, titled Del Greco a Goya: Obras maestras del Museo del Prado (“From El Greco to Goyo: Masterpieces from the Museum of El Prado”):


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Soviet Fashion Illustrations (1967)

Continuing with the historic voyage through fashion illustrations, I have found these illustrations, part of an art album dating 1967. They are Soviet fashion illustrations and I have never seen one of these before! It is interesting to see how Soviet fashion saw itself influenced or affected by Western fashion, considering the Iron Curtain effect on the former USSR. As you all may remember, the Cold War was essentially a non-weaponised (no weapons were fired but fear of nuclear attacks were imminent) conflict between the Western capitalist nations (headed by the USA) and the Eastern European countries (starting with the USSR), which were communist.

The cover seems inspired by Constructivism, although Socialist Realism was the art movement in vogue during this period in the USSR.

Doing my bit of research on the Internet, I found out that the Soviet Constructivism movement finalised around the 1940s. Its main goal was to use art for Communist propaganda purposes and mediums such as the poster and flyer were preferred. By 1967, however, when the Soviets seemed to be gaining in the race to reach the moon (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin visited space in 1967– two years before the first American spaceship landed on the moon), Socialist Realism was the main art movement in the Soviet Union.

How curious it is to see, therefore, a Soviet fashion art book with collage-style illustrations that remind us of the earlier days of Communist triumph. Fashion was, if we reason Communist ideals, a ‘bourgeoise’ commodity. I personally doubt it was well represented in Soviet society and I would expect that it was frowned upon by the political leaders of its time.

This is one of the pages of the Soviet Art book with fashion illustrations. Notice the flats carefully drawn below each dress style.

Moreover, the dress style of these illustrations are parallel to Western dress silhouettes. One must wonder if the Iron Curtain was enough to keep Western influence from penetrating through Soviet society, if fashion maybe encouraged mutual comprehension where political and socio-economic ideals prohibit it.

Why use other visual aesthetics that are contrary to what was being depicted in art at the moment? What purpose could these illustrations have beyond their obvious reason for existence? How can we compare them to Western fashion illustrations? DO they remind you of specific illustrations/illustrators? Let me know your opinions!

Another Soviet fashion illustration/art book. This one is from 1968, a year later.

Part of the 1968 Soviet art book.

Jackets, peacoats, and trenchcoats

Sears Catalogs: The Social Self and Fashion Illustrations

I received today my order from Katie Blueford, who specialises in selling vintage pages, and I am so excited! I bought twenty pages of a 1902 Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog depicting their fashion illustrations.

Why? It is a fantastic addition to my fashion courses, especially Fashion Illustration and Trends, Fashion and Society.

Sources like fashion and store catalogs from the turn of the 20th century are indisputable as to what where people wearing, how was clothing sold, and how illustration is used to not only depict clothing, but to lure customers into buying it. It is ironic, since the illustrations in the Sears catalog are photo composites, using the head and limbs of pictures of real women but with the clothes drawn on top of those pictures. This is the same fashion illustration method used in fashion schools in London, particularly Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion.

Wash Suits and Dresses

Another feature of these illustrations is the distortion of the female figure. The ‘S-shaped’ silhouette was in vogue during 1902 and the illustrations help women fantasize how their bodies will change once they order those specific clothing items and wear them. Remember, fashion illustration not only sells you the clothing, but the mood it seeks to convey. It is about the fantasy, about becoming someone else when one wears certain clothes. Psychologically, these illustrations lure the customer into a fantastical world where their bodies will become, through using specific garments (and undergarments), socially-approved.

Moreover, the use of photographic images of real women superimposed to intaglio drawings supports the notion that the silhouette suggested by the illustration is not only socially desirable, but physically possible. The body is fragmented into two different units that look entirely independent of each other! With the correct undergarments, women can have 16” waists, heavy upper-bodies and smaller hips.

Rainy Days or Walking Skirts

Who knew a Sears catalog from 1902 could tell us so much about how people function in society and how fashion and society are related? What other conclusion can we draw from these illustrations?

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