A comment by teawithonesugarplease precipitated this post. I'm pinching the bit which is relevant, "Fashion as an industry used to be the preserve of the ultimate rich - those who could afford to pay to travel to Paris and be dressed in the seasons must have right down to hand sewn lingerie. I guess in our modern age things have moved on and consumerism is open to a bigger majority."
Ah yes it is to Paris that May Wellend from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton goes to buy her new wifely wardrobe. In fact numerous references to Paris fashion precipitate the Countess Olenski given her perceived exotic nature. And of course once upon a time high fashion did just revolve around the Paris collections and houses.
Once upon a time the same Paris houses would helpfully recognise the disparity of wealth and provided selected patterns to buy or in the magazines. Hollywood did the same with costumes from films particularly ones worn by Joan Crawford. Hollywood costume designers also consulted with department stores to make a 'copy' of an original garment. The fashion houses of Paris went on to strike commercial deals with department stores and retailers and provided patterns and diffusion lines which weren't labelled. All of these activities helped women to get the look at a fraction of the price.
When Yves Sant Laurant launched Rive Gauche he broke with the idea of the fashion house being above the retailers on the high streets. A fashion house choose to market directly to the public and mass produce a commercial line. The rest is history. The bags, the make up, the perfume. Okay I'm given a rather simplistic potted view here but you get the gist.
But what stopped was the helpful nature of magazines. The editorial tone that helped women afford the look within their budget. Pearl of Fashions Pearls of Wisdom hilariously pointed out that more dash than cash section in UK Vogue is ridiculous given the outfits are still at the higher range with the odd cheap sock or skirt thrown in. By cheap I mean under the £50 mark. Anyway Pearl made me laugh with her biting wit on this matter and she likes a fritter in Chanel.
Of course today the designers go for high publicity ranges in H&M, Target and the like. It appears fashion blogs are filling this gap. There is lots of helpful advice, views and opinions shared amongst the blogging community. The recently organised blogging sale is a wonderful example of this and I might add I bought a mighty fine dress off Mrs Bossa, which I'm in the midst of mending and altering.
From a historical perspective I do wish magazines would become friends that are supportive rather than friends that are superior. Do you feel the same?