May 21, 2014

Fashion, the magic wonderland of revolutionary inventions! Or About the miniskirt!

Donna Karan is the inventor of the bodysuit– I wonder if registered? –, Diane von Fürstenberg the pioneer of the wrap dress, and Cristóbal Balenciaga the initiator of the baby-doll shape. Yet if DvF is this year celebrating 40 years of iconic wrap dresses, when it comes to most fashion items, to be on the safe side we’d better place their firsts sometime between… ancient Rome and the Ming Dynasty! Still, the modern form of fashion, the one that revolutionized the world we live in, has its origins – both original and inspired from the past, we have to give it that – no farther than the beginnings of the 1900s. And the 4 pillars of the contemporary style – the mini skirt, stiletto shoes, jeans and the bikini – have tremendous potential for seeing their brilliantfashion-Leonardo-da-Vinci-inventors’ names remembered for millennia to come!

The bikini doesn’t have the history based on sensuality or even athleticism you might expect. The buzz word for this ravishing piece of clothing is ’’war’’. During the Second World War, all was rationalized, including textiles. The end of the same war was luxuriously & minimalisticaly celebrated by its wearing. And it is after the Pacific Ocean Bikini Atoll, the site of the first nuclear test in history, that the atomically small bikini got its name. War or not, its inventor, Louis Reard, in 1946, had to struggle in finding a model for his creation. Nonetheless, Micheline Bernardini, the exotic dancer to first try on the bathing suit small enough to – literally – ’’be pulled through a wedding ring’’, had enormous success! She got over 50 000 fan letters and we might say, was a genuine torchbearer and a future engine for the economy. Yes, over an average year, the Americans spend approximately USD 4 billion on skimpy bikini!

The stiletto as well, long and thin, has its own hidden peril. Because it’s named after a type of dagger and because, of course, it makes men-victims and could also very well kill! And even its coming into being was one rather fiercely disputed. After Salvatore Ferragamo in 1931, Roger Vivier for Dior is the one to have perfected the true modern stiletto. To then have it, chronologically, fought over by Tina Turner, Manolo Blahnik, Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and Carrie Bradshaw. And little wonder about it. I mean, it’s the shoe better than sex!

As a matter of fact, Neiman Marcus New York alone sells 30 000 Manolos a year. And if money makes the world go round, then surely there’s a stiletto pressing the gas pedal!


Levi Strauss, we all know it, is the inventor of jeans. Work trousers for the gold diggers and cowboys of 1873, they’re the beginning and the end of every wardrobe on the planet. So great is, in fact, the power of jeans that – maybe to avoid an earlier collapse of the Berlin Wall, who knows – this symbol of capitalism was introduced even to the USSR as exceptionally early as 1957.

The most expensive pair of jeans registered to the Guinness Book of Records are a pair of Swarovski crystal Escadas sold by Neiman Marcus for USD 10 000. I wonder how much we’d be willing to pay for them should they be the only and last pair on the face of the Earth… Still, don’t panic. The world annual production is of a comfortable… 2.5 billion!


But what is the greatest Canadian invention of all time? Not the snowmobile, not the egg carton and not the garbage bag… it’s the miniskirt! Yes, and its historic recording comes from a Swedish botanist visiting in 1749, while the fashion innovators in the region seem to have been wearing it, appropriately, on Sundays! Yet, the fashion world rubber-stamped credible version of it comes from 1964 London and Mary Quant. Still, linked to temerary Mrs Quant, there are 2 interesting slightly contradictory facts. The absolutely non-intriguing one of her also pioneering the hot pants and the unbelievable one that the name of the miniskirt has nothing to do with its length, and all with Mrs Quant’s favourite car, the Mini…

Funny are the ways of fashion, but… all is well when it ends well!


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