Reference Entry

Fashion: Origins and development

Lourdes Font and Beth McMahon

in Oxford Art Online


Published online July 2009 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T2082669

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  • Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
  • Fashion, Jewellery, and Body Art
  • Textiles and Embroidery
  • 18th-Century Art
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  • 20th-Century Art

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Fashion is defined as the act or process of making or shaping. As applied to dress, (see Dress) it can be understood to mean the making or shaping of the appearance of the body by means of clothing and adornment in a way that expresses aesthetic ideals that are continually subject to change. Like dress in general, fashion is a multi-faceted cultural phenomenon and plays an important role in defining social class, gender and identity. Fashionable dress, however, is distinguished by constant and rapid changes in style, transmitted through the representation of the fashionable ideal in visual art and media as well as through the direct interaction of individual fashion leaders. The word ‘fashion’ also indicates the global system of design, production and consumption of garments and accessories that are, for a limited time, considered fashionable and thus invested with greater social value (see fig.). The fashion industry today is a global system, but it has not always existed at all places and times. This article discusses the origin and development of Western fashion....

Reference Entry.  4342 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Fashion, Jewellery, and Body Art ; Textiles and Embroidery ; 18th-Century Art ; 19th-Century Art ; 20th-Century Art

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