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Visual & Performing Arts
Research Paper
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Post-War Fashion: American Vs Paris Couture (Research Paper Sample)


FINAL PAPER: A single image of fashionable dress, as defined by the focus of this course, will serve as the basis for exploration and analysis of both historical style and the image itself. The image both guides and focuses the paper: a successful paper consistently analyzes the period and each category through the original image. Each paper will address somewhat different topics, but for the most part will consider cultural context, designer, artist, model, materiality, etc. This assignment builds upon the skills developed in Integrative Design Studio and Seminar. Due dates are staggered throughout the semester; each component is graded separately (late work and plagiarism policies in effect for each part).
Papers are to be five pages; length assumes Times New Roman or similar font (12 points) or 250 words per page, double-spaced, with a one-inch margin on all sides, and additional footnotes, illustrations, and bibliography, with formal academic structure and language. Spelling and grammar, as well as Parsons-mandated formatting (Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, 16th edition), will be counted toward your final grade, as well as quality and number (minimum six) of sources.


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The succeeding years after World War II was characterized by a series of economic and socio-political changes throughout most of the world. Perhaps one of the most well-known effects of the fall of previous great powers was the inception of the Cold War, where two great powers – US and USSR – has risen to fight a covert and mostly proxy wars. However, aside from the cold war, these series of socio-political changes in the Western part of the world has also brought about numerous shifts in almost every aspect of the citizen's life, such as fashion. Particularly, the years after the war was said to have characterized the revival of haute couture. What was previously an art and an aspect of life that was dominated by short skirts and square shoulders was replaced by longer skirts, curved shoulders, and slimmer waist. A look that is now famously known as the “New Look.” Consequently, this resurgence could also be argued to bring a kind of a ‘cold war' between the centers of the fashion industry, New York, and Paris. A covert but influential competition that brought about many changes in both the fashion industry and overall culture. Following from this, the author of this paper would try to discuss this competition in further details. Particularly speaking the next sections would be dedicated towards the analysis of the history of the New Look in both cities as well as the respective designers that shaped their industries. All in all, the author of this article believes that by combining an analysis of the overall socio-political context of the era and the designs that it was able to create, a better understanding of the relationship of fashion, culture, and society could be made.[Victoria and Albert Museum. 2008. The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947–57, museum exhibition.

The ‘New Look' and the Post-War Couture Wars
One of the tolls of WWII was the excessive use of resources that were allocated to the manufacturing of weaponry and other supplies for the war. Nevertheless, its end also paved the way for an increase in technological innovations for other fields such as textile manufacturing. This is, in fact, one of the main reasons for the resurgence of what was considered ‘unnecessary' during the span of World War II. One of these advancements were in the manufacturing of textiles, which then created the “spandex, volleyball shorts, and easy-care fabric finishes.” Consequently, this defined and fitted with an easy-going cosmopolitan lifestyle in urban areas such as Paris, London, and New York, adding another reason for its high adoption rate. At the same time, this became the era, when the teenagers and the youth (in general) has regained their place as “fashion authorities” sporting designs that become easily influential for anyone regardless of age.[Muggleton, David. 2005. "From classlessness to club culture: A genealogy of post-war British youth cultural analysis." Young 13, no. 2 (2005) 205-219.]
Despite being widely adopted in the whole West and several other parts of the globe as well as the innovation in textile making, the rise of couture was also heavily affected by the reopening of the Paris Fashion Houses by 1947. Despite being focused on haute fashion (rather than ready-to-wear and mass market) that catered for most of the urban population, these authorities in the industry was one of the reasons for the change for the decline in fashion characterized by a padded and boxy line to those dominated by rounded symmetries. Amongst the ...

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