An interesting read…





5th July 1946 – the day the bikini was born



5th July 1946 – The French designer Louis Réard introduces the world’s first bikini at a beauty contest held around a swimming pool in Paris. Réard is unable to find a willing model to wear the new creation, and so he recruits a strip dancer from the Casino de Paris named Micheline Bernardini. He names the skimpy suit after the American A-bomb test which occurred a week earlier on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Rival French designer Jacques Heim debuts his version of the bikini that summer as well calling it the “Atom” after the atomic bomb.

Micheline Bernardini: The nude dancer who became the first bikini model. 5th July 1946 in Paris (Alac, 2002).


Micheline Bernardini wearing the first bikini designed by Louis Reard.


Alac, P. (2002). The Bikini: A cultural history. Hong Kong: Parkstone Press Ltd

The frilly tale of the Peplum


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The peplum has made a comeback for Spring/Summer 2012. I use the term “comeback” because in the 20th century the peplum style was popular both  in the 1940’s and the 1980’s.   The word “Peplum” is derived from the Greek word peplos (meaning shawl).

A peplum [ˈpɛpləm] is defined as follows:

1. (Clothing & Fashion) a flared ruffle attached to the waist of a jacket, bodice, etc.

2. (Clothing & Fashion) a variant of peplos

The images which follow will give you a quick visual history of the peplum…

Figure 1: 1940’s Peplum blouse and Peplum dress pattern

Figure 1: 1940’s Peplum blouse and Peplum dress pattern


Figure 2: Another 1940’s Peplum pattern

Figure 3: 1980’s version of the Peplum

Figure 3: 1980's version of the Peplum

Currently the peplum is popularfor SS12. Figure 4 is an image of actress Emma Stone wearing a modern peplum dress designed by Giambattista Valli 2011.

Figure 4: Emma Stone wearing Giambattista Valli 2011

Figure 5 below is a modern twist on the peplum frill by Elie Saab.

Figure 5: Elie Saab Tailored Peplum Dress

Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel – icon of the 20th century


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“She came from nowhere and died an icon. The designs of this influential couturier permanently changed the look of the modern woman.” (Werle, 2010 p.21)

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born into a poverty stricken family in Saumur, France on the 19th August 1883. She grew up in an orphanage and quickly graduated from working in a clothing store to rubbing shoulders with France’s aristocracy.  Chanel acquired the nickname ‘Coco’ which is possibly attributed to a song she sang as a café entertainer.

Chanel was able to practice as a milliner from an apartment in Paris in 1910 with the financial support of her lover. She opened a boutique on the rue Cambon in 1919 which is still the Chanel headquarters today. In 1921 Chanel launched the fragrance Chanel No. 5. During the Second World War sales of the perfume soared as soldiers bought the fragrance to take as gifts for loved ones back home. Today a bottle of Chanel No.5 sells every 30 seconds.

Chanel is renowned for creating women’s fashions from knit fabric which was traditionally reserved for menswear. Chanel brought an elegant masculinity to women’s clothing, adding various trims and introducing elements from sailor and military uniforms. Chanel promoted a casual look for women after the restricting formality of the corset.

Chanel favoured neutral colours and introduced the world to wearing black as day wear, a colour usually only reserved for funerals and mourning. The “Little Black Dress” (LBD) was introduced by Chanel in 1926 and made famous by actress Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. The LBD was, and still is, a classic outfit for many women.

Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel died in 1971. Presently the House of Chanel is headed by Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld. He has been creative director since 1983. Lagerfeld consistently reinterprets the classic silhouettes while adhering to Chanel’s aesthetic and her philosophy of simplicity.

Figure 1: Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (English, 2009)


English,B. (2009).Fashion: The 50 most influential fashion designers in the world. London: A&C Black publishers.

Werle, S. (2010). 50 Fashion Designers you should know. Germany: Prestel

Fashion and History – about the blog

Hello there fashion history enthusiasts,

To start here is just a bit about this blog:

I plan to post interesting fashion history or history related items which could serve as research material for students or anyone who is interested. Please note that all posts will be referenced according to the APA referencing method so please do not plagiarise but simply use the posts as a research tool. If you do use any of the information in one of your own documents please cite the original source.

Thanks and enjoy the reading 🙂