Home spun style – how British Fashion changed the world!
Being British we’re used to being quite self-effacing types who typically downplay our own greatness, but when it comes to fashion, there’s no doubt that through the decades Britain has shaped the style world in a major way.
Take the mini skirt for example. Invented in the 60’s by iconic British fashion designer Mary Quant, the mini came to embody the spirit of 1960’s London and was subsequently adopted by style conscious citizens throughout the world.
At the time the mini skirt was cheeky, a little bit shocking, and was considered totally edgy and fresh, which is why it became the skirt of choice for the hordes of fashion conscious women prowling up and down the length of the heart of Swinging London, Carnaby Street.
But British fashion had been influencing and shaping the sartorial world decades before the 1960’s. Did you know that the man universally considered to be the father of haute couture was actually a Brit who came from Lincolnshire, who worked in the drapery shops of London before he moved to Paris to open his salon?
In his day, Charles Worth was an absolute fashion behemoth, and was so revered he even dressed royals such as France’s Empress Eugenie, not to mention famous society beauties of the time such as actress Sarah Bernhardt, and uber courtesan Cora Pearl. Women flocked to him from around the world to be draped in his expertly cut designs, and to this day he remains an eternal fashion icon, remembered throughout the world for his tailoring and use of luxurious fabrics.
It’s not just items of clothing that has put Britain firmly on the fashion map either – we invented mass production – essentially paving the way for every retail outlet from Primark to Prada to hawk their wares. The Spinning Jenny, which totally revolutionized the clothing production industry, made producing large volumes of fabric possible, and it was invented by a British carpenter called James Hargreaves.
The device, named after Hargreaves daughter, was so successful it became one of the key instruments behind the Industrial Revolution, and in fact is the reason why the high street fashion industry that exists today is in existence at all!
And let’s not forget that quintessential fashion staple – black. The trend for the monochromatic shade that’s so vital to any self-respecting fashionista, and is found making up a large part of the wardrobes of the style conscious throughout the globe, actually started with one of our own – good old Queen Victoria.
Though typically when we think of black, we think of Coco Chanel, who popularised the Little Black Dress, the shade first became en vogue after the death of Prince Albert, when Victoria took to wearing all black.
Before Queen Vic went back to black, practically no one wore the shade apart from widows in mourning and members of the clergy, but afterwards everyone from pauper to princess was kitted out in all black garb complete with matching jet accessories. It’s probably one of the biggest influences Britain has ever had on the fashion world, and it’s a trend that continues today, though it often goes uncredited.
British fashion designers hold a major sway in the global fashion scene and are praised throughout the world for their excellence, innovation, and creative expertise. From the edgy and boundary pushing late Alexander McQueen, to the eccentric surprise of Vivienne Westwood, right through to the eco-conscious tailored cool of Stella McCartney, all of them hold the fashion world in thrall with their unique and highly wearable designs.
There’s no doubt that in the future British fashion will be one of the front-runners in setting new style trends, as from producing exciting new ethical fashion to creating cool and edgy street wear, Brits continue to lead the way, blazing new trails in the sartorial stakes and continuing a trend that’s gone on for centuries.
How do you see British fashion shaping the future, do you see Britain continuing to set new trends or perhaps you think the opposite and you feel Britain has lost it’s creative fashion heart? Let us know in the comments below!