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Fashion – with the law at its inception

The world of great fashion involves collections, fashion shows, sessions, banquets and spectacular shifts at the top. Milan, Paris, London, New York, increasingly Dubai. One has to have the appropriate profession or a day made of rubber to catch up with it all.

How did it start? At a time when people’s lives were much slower dresses took weeks to sow, while information was still up-to-date when it reached New York from Paris by steamer. In the second half of the 19th century an Englishman appeared on the fashion scene, Charles-Frederic Worth, a pioneer and a master of what used to be standard then and is a luxury today, namely haute couture. Worth, today unfortunately remembered only by professionals of the trade and passionate lovers of fashion, introduced into the world of fashion elements which we cannot imagine it could do without today.

How did the first fashion house originate?

One afternoon, when one of his shop’s clients could not make up her mind about the choice of fabric from which her dress was to be made, the Englishman draped the fabric on one of his employees (actually his future wife) to make it easier for his client to imagine what the dress could look like. The simplicity and ingenuity of this idea was the starting point for fashion shows, which became a permanent element of the boutique housed at rue de la Paix 7. Fashion shows took place every Tuesday and Friday and were extremely popular. Today’s world does not see anything outstanding in these spectacles, or in modelling itself for that matter, they have become common. But in those days, in the second half of the 19th century, it was a revolution which set in motion the enormous fashion machine we know today.

Charles-Frederic Worth started his career as a tailor and ended up as a fashion designer, in fact creating a new profession. He created for himself (and for his successors) a new reality, surrounded fashion with an aura of mystery and made it desirable. He was the first to attach labels on his works, (can we imagine today exclusive designs which are unclaimed by anyone? Most of us are not even aware of the exorbitant sums spent on the protection of fashion trademarks) and grant licenses for copying his works (yes, when fashion as we know it today was in infancy, copycats abounded). However, the greatest achievement of his life was what gave fashion its basic structure – he founded the first modern fashion house, and one that actually survived its founder. The giants we know, such as Chanel, Dior or Louis Vuitton, came after him.

This, very briefly, is the story of how tailoring became an art. And how it created a plethora of tasks and challenges for people of various trades: designers, PR specialists, technologists and lawyers, for centuries to come.





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