Fashions: Historical Perspectives:
Eight Part Series:
Styles, fashions, trendsetters, and what women are wearing represents one of the
most interesting - fascinating chapters in human creative behaviors. The great depth, and the powerful creative imaginations
necessary to maintain independence of styles are depicted on several fashion runways of the eight major fashions capitals
of the world, and countless other communities.
This has always caught my attention, and not only from the male appreciative admiration
of the beautiful female fashions models. More directly from the perspective of the very nimble minds and even harder efforts
to make reality what the mind is attempting to produce - which went behind each design.
None the less, it is the importance of this one behavior in which an idenity is derived, and
how a society wishes to represent itself which links every other culture to others in a central commonality to produce beauty.
Looking at the present culture of fashions, haute couture, and the importance of its presence within society one has
to first look at the foundations of the modern prototypical promotion of the fashions industry. Yes, and if you really
do not know already means I will be writing about Paris, France. Yet one historic personality whose contribution to fashions
is little known by most.
King Louis XIV.
The secret to King Louis XIV efforts to centralized power to the crown of the French monarchy from the nobles,
who owned most of the territory of France outright, was based upon one clear objective. To entice their egos from
which to eventually seduce them first into Paris, and then to create their dependency upon his crown. France was
still coming out of bitter sectarian conflicts which weaken France itself to Spain, and the English trading shipping
interests were likewise not helping either. Nonetheless, France had already established the first Universal institutions
of higher education through the establishment of the Isle de France, giving France the highest educated population in
Europe, and was since the eight century known as " THE " trendsetter in what people wore in Europe.
Something which really irked Italians all the time-even today.
About that time dance was coming of its age - though play for children, and era. The additional
aspect, and in the conceptual frame behind the scenes, French political behaviorisms of this era, court jesters
were known for their usage to smear a foe in public by their royal sponsors ever so delicately couched behind the
role and ruse of comedy. Yet King Louis needed something in which to modify the noble's behaviors into role
functionaries to the pomp and circumstance of his envisioned central royal court culture of The Versailles
Palace and it's emerging adjacent community - likewise developed by Louis - where everyone who was someone, personally selected
by his crown officals, were likewise to move to from Paris.
L' ballet entered into the picture as the prolific behavioral central ruse. What an idea, lets act out in
full public view what he wanted French society rules to become, through its class of nobles first. Then, and most important,
how they are to behave in his royal court. This was included in the various choreographies of dance performance
right their in the open public - while at the sametime they, the very same nobles, having to pay the money for the
Then in the twist and turn of his own and very nimble genius came the even more brilliant additional idea
- behind the pomp and circumstance contained in his vision. He was to create, and to further inspire very,
very, very expensive fashion styles for the French nobility. Selected coutures were invited to his Parisian court
carrying the ordered most expensive fabrics and accessories they had, and he showed them how to modify their designs
and told how he would help them make a lot of money at the sametime. He knew this meant that lots of money was
going to be spent by the nobles.
The central themes on all going promotionals are ....
The Sun King.
Creativity was immediately fused in the ongoing development, and organizations in his various
ballets, The Sun King, and Louis needed terms in order to train what he wanted other dancers to do in the performances.
Thus we have the ballet terminologies of today as a direct result of his additional creative efforts. More importantly these
events created the ballet arts as dance genre internationally and were followed up later by establishment of
The Paris Opera House - which institutionalized what Louis envisioned in dance. Then he established the Court Post of '
Haute Couture '. This meant the ' Royal Counts of French Nobles ' had to have one too! Other royals assisted in
creating commercial fashion houses. It was in the evolution of these fashion houses that fashions had to be more creative,
along with what Louis had inspired, and thus the first golden age of European fashions emerged as a result during
As a side note: In Italy, though they were the European main spring of ballet from Chinese
origins, was taking to opera at this time in which they have had the cultural lead Internationally ever since. For them,
it was a good trade off.
Thus during this cultural new development, Paris was electric'fied. The ' Court of Louis XIV ' became
sought after by younger landed nobles or their sons and daughters who upon arrival upon this culturally awsome scene
found out they were not properly attired, and several of their females companions were highly embarrassed outright in the
first years of this social French development. Money really flowed into the Parisian couture's pockets who a couple years
earlier were begging for bread. More importantly other nobles through out Europe who could " afford it " made their
seasonal ( This, likewise, was the new rage through out European youth nobles too! ) trips to Paris, and then
Versailles too - real upper class only tourist trade sprung out of this time. So everyone had to start paying attention to
what they were wearing, and it is here where Louis genius really struct pay-dirt, and very litterally too! It cost a
lot more money, inflation kept up with blooming egos of the nobles to get properly attired, and the younger of the
noble classes, and not knowing better either, really went on wild spending sprees, rushed several notes back home asking
for more and more money. Also at this time the tabacco habit struck at this time. Then came their parents, and
who, then seeing whats was really going on, were likewise seduced!
Excitment and celebrations were everywhere, and everyone wanted to forget the ole sectarian riffs which
just a few years ago existed in France - so a National means of escape was achived at the sametime. Louis had fashioned
his central cultural distraction while his eyes look upon himself becoming the military and political master of all Europe
everytime time he saw a European map. This was his goal in the first place.
We're talking about cost, in todays terms, for male court fashions at around $ 5,000.00,
and female $ 15,000.00 and the jewlry was going as high as $ 500,000.00 - all being supplied and crafted by the
emerging middle class of Paris itself. Then as the opening of The Sun King Ballet staring as the first " historic
" male principal dancer King Louis XIV himself, tights and all, the ruse, or resulting behavior modification was
sprung upon the French nobles....
Here is how these promotionals went...
First... Came advance notification of the play bills / invitations and promotions, as well
as the dessemination of story - rumor mills by selected court officals to instigate gossip which
went on about what was meant by proper dress only, was also part of this new very lavish social function.
Ballet was considered then by French youth as EXTREME ( Very much like the Moon Walk was during the
80s ), and AWSOME, and Culturally Revolutionary ( the Hip Hop of its day ). Everyone wanted in, especially
when it gave you an ' in ' to the new class distinctions being created at the sametime ( It was also at this point
in French history which began the causal factor which was to become the bloody French Revolution, as the nobels became
further distracted while in Paris from the peoples plight of resulting poverty of their various fiefs. ). Remember the quip of ' Court Jesters' a subtile means to attack someone else in public attendence, well
Louis was going to have ballet to modify French behavior towards him.
Previous to each performance everyone was properly introduced by the Standard, the guy with the long pole
bejewled at the top who would stomp it on the polished marble floor generating very loud and distinct echoing stomps to get total
public attention. At the entrance everyone heads truned to see each noble and his lady who were being assured by everyones noble
nods signifying that their fashions were individually and thus socially approved. Both men and women were all dressed
up in the finest silken lace ' money ' could provide. The hook ... Another-words everyone was being paraded for approval.
This was deliberately staged too! Court Jesters? Hmmmm... The class behavior he was creating was that
everyone was to be seen, and in this staged cultural genre the noble's egos ballooned as a result. It was here, the
noble's resulting emotional vulnerability, that he finally had them on a path to be socioculturally seduced and
politically exploited. Then at the ballet itself, they were completely taken by surprise by his deliberate highly
sensual grace of his movements, even more so there were females in the
audience who were in complete sexual rapture. Faintings suddenly occured.
This went completely sexually noticed by the more younger males of the nobles
all done upon in their extreme lace and wigs, and knew if they were to be noticed by the opposite
sex, they better take a lesson from Louis who was demonstrating what court behavior was going to be. SENSUAL and SENSUALLY DRESSED!
Then after the performance was to be followed by a reception. This meant a change in dressings, and
everyone went to where they could get changed. That meant more money was to be spent, including additional rentals,
or construction of Parisian, then Versailles villas, the new chateaus were like palaces themselves, and more of
the wealth to pay for this came from the provinces as most of the money in France started to flow into Paris and not
Additional extreme promotions of the new French culture envisioned by Louis were also instituted,
IE. more tasty French Pastries - they hired the best from Vienna, all expensive, and soon even the older - who should
have been more wiser - Counts of the French monarachy were likewise seduced as mistresses became likewise a public social
normal discourse at the sametime-promoted again by Louis. The French Cardinal was likewise busy, and thus no immorality
statements were ever made or even involvement in French culture. This created a vast and an expansive fashions industry
and from which a very strong French middle class was established and all who knew their loyality was with the king - who
gave them this opportunity of wealth. Then Louis objective was absolutely immediate, and from the outset became
very clear, and that is to tax them, and from which he was able to have the money to establish a professional army. Then navy.
Later came his adventures in the Netherlands. Even in some of the battles in which he commanded
his troops, he brought both his wife and mistress hand in hand with a selected group of nobles to see his heroic
deeds in action. He himself got hook on needing an audience. A real show off!
In 16 years the landed nobles had started to incur great debths, some had lost everything within a few years, and
had to ask Louis for help from time to time, and soon after centralized political and military power was in his hands, and
foreign colonies were likewise being established to create the economic multiplier from royal investments to increase the
wealth of France; this paid for his navy.
The French Civilization ever since always maintained this cultural cross nitting of dependent cycles until
another genius appeared and that was Chanel Coco. She's Chapter Two! Hint
she made it more of a Womyn's industry. Even with a tip for tat cross dressings. More importantly. she broke this dependency
cycle and fashions assumed more cultural independence as a result. None the less, and along with his additional efforts,
King Louis XIV's influence is behind every lace, sense of pagentry on the various fashions runways all over the world,
all still getting their cadence and characteristics from The Sun King.