Tag Archives: fashion

PHOTO GALLERY: History of the female body through art, fashion and life

The Venus of Willendorf is a 4.3-inch high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. With a bountiful breasts and a large stomach, the figure is meant to show fertility. Her head is covered by a headdress or traditional hair style.

The ancestry of the female nude is distinct from the male, an fantastic article from the Met said. Where the latter originates in the perfect human athlete, the former embodies the divinity of procreation. Naked female figures are shown in very early prehistoric art, and in historical times, similar images represent such fertility deities as the Near Eastern Ishtar. The Greek goddess Aphrodite belongs to this family, and she too was imagined as life-giving, proud, and seductive. For many centuries, the Greeks preferred to see her clothed, unlike her Near Eastern counterparts, but in the mid-fourth century B.C., the sculptor Praxiteles made a naked Aphrodite, called the Knidian, which established a new tradition for the female nude. Lacking the bulbous and exaggerated forms of Near Eastern fertility figures, the Knidian Aphrodite, like Greek male athletic statues, had idealized proportions based on mathematical ratios. In addition, her pose, with head turned to the side and one hand covering the body, seemed to present the goddess surprised in her bath and thus fleshed the nude with narrative and erotic possibilities. The position of the goddess’ hands may be meant to show modesty or desire to shield the viewer from too full a view of her godhead. Although the Knidian statue is not preserved, its impact survives in the numerous replicas and variants of it commissioned in the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Such images of Venus, the Latin name of Aphrodite, adorned houses, bath buildings, and tombs as well as temples and outdoor sanctuaries.

The Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, dated 1434 by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck,  It is considered one of the more original and complex paintings in Western art because of the iconography. One of the icons is the way she is dressed. She is not actually pregnant, but the clothing of the time and art was made to make women appear more fertile and robust.

The Birth of Venus is a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli. Botticelli was commissioned to paint the work by the Medici family of Florence. Venus is characterized by her slim figure and perfect “s-curve” stature which showed correct muscle contrapposto. In contrast, the women next to her was robust and possibly pregnant-looking.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. But unlike what the Greek and Roman athletic depictions might be, Rubens  painted The Three Graces, 1635, in his larger than life style. This is where the term “rubenesque” figures comes from.

An Etsy user is selling a full length cabinet photograph portrait of a Victorian era woman standing rather incongruously next to a fake boulder with a woodland background. The lady is wearing a typical dark dress ensemble from the 1880’s: corseted jacket with brooch at the throat, pleated underskirt and probably a modified bustle. The corset is only a hint at what the expectations of the female body were at the time.

Dropped waists and baggy clothing were meant to hang on the 1920s flapper like clothing on a hanger.

A stark contrast from the 1920s, a more voluptuous figure emerged. But their waists were still meant to me smaller. In some models, waist training was used to synch the waist to unnatural levels. The hips and the bust still remained full.

A resurgence of the 1920s was made when model Twiggy came on the scene. Since then, models have upheld the skinny expectation.

Like Twiggy, models like Kate Moss continue to posses the “heroin-chic” ideal. Although Moss is only 5’7, other industry models are much taller at the same weight. In essence, they are walking clothes hangers.

Companies like H&M, who have recently recruited Beyonce as a model, are starting to make larger clothing and even larger mannequins. But despite the plus size revolution, the industry standard hasn’t changed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising, art, Design, Entertainment, Fashion, Features, Fitness, Food, Health, People, Photography, Sex, Vintage, Women

Abercrombie’s plus-sized risk: Clothes not for large people

These shoppers have the right look. (October 24, 2012 - Source: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images Europe)

These shoppers have the right look.
(October 24, 2012 – Source: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images Europe)

Abercrombie brings another definition to who the “cool kids” are. In 2004, the company was sued for giving positions to white applicants versus minorities. Now, the “lifestyle concept” shop is at it again, this time attacking weight.

According to business expert Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, CEO Mike Jeffries “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people.”

This comes as no shock. The retailer is widely known for its exclusivity, toting “casual luxury” as a wearable way of life.

Jeffries told Salon in a 2006 interview, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t carry women’s sizes over large. But for men, they do stock XL and XLL  (to appeal to the “cool jocks” perhaps).

With scantily clad employees and naked models with bods of gods at the entrance of metropolitan stores, there’s no doubt A & F makes a certain statement.

In the Salon interview Jeffries goes on to explain “that’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

A & F targets the all-American girl-next-door or prom king. Targeting teenagers with their brand, is A & F falling behind in the times? In the past 30 years, obesity in adolescence has tripled. One-third of adolescence and children are obese.

Their prime target market isn’t far behind the older cliental. 37.5 percent of adults are obese with  25.1 percent of white adult Americans being obese.

So is it a smart branding decision? Or is A & F alientating a large chunk of his customer base? After all, a sizable 67 percent of the apparel-purchasing population fit the “plus-size” label.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Fashion, Feature, Features, Health, Opinion, People, Viral, Women

Reebok’s offensive ad and others like it

It never ceases to amaze me how many terrible advertisements are out there.

You would think that out of the loads of writers, creative directors, CEOs that are in the chain of creating a terrible ad, at least one of them would stop and say, hey this might not be such a good idea afterall.

The  latest in advertising debacles is Reebok. They printed an ad in Germany with the copy, “Cheat on your girlfriend, not your workout.” Last time I checked, cheating on anything isn’t noble, nor a positive message to athletes. And once again, another ad is derogatory towards women.

Another ad that is equally insensitive to women and really irks me is the Dr. Pepper Ten. Their slogan, “It’s not for women,” completely alienates half their potential buyers, if not more since many mothers do the grocery shopping. I just don’t get it. Who thought it was a good idea?

And since I am on the topic of women and advertisements, there has also been an increase in the number of ads, especially in the fashion world, using domestic violence as an edgy theme. I wrote a whole article about the topic. Many of the ads depict women with made up bruises on their eyes. Once again, who thought this was a good idea?

Photo of Glee's Heather Morris by Tyler Shields

5 Comments

Filed under Design, Entertainment, Fashion, Feature, Features, Fitness, Food, funny, Health, humor, Opinion, People, Viral, Women

Fatal attraction: the killer shoe

4 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Fashion, Feature, Features, Graphic Design, Health, Sex, Women

Health to be shown at Fashion Week

Bravo CFDA!

This year the Council of Fashion Designers of America have set up health initiative guidelines to help raise awareness of eating disorders among young women.

The target of controversy in recent years, designers have been ridiculed for the models they send down the runway, rather than the possible faux pas they create in avant-garde pieces.

The more “voluptuous” super models of the 90s have given way to Twiggy-like inspirations in the 2000s. Designers want a walking coat hanger. Honestly, I don’t blame them. Who wants to see a piece of clothing with giant cleavage distracting from the neckline or a muffin top bulging the hem upwards?

Models are paid to have a certain body type and maintain that body type. But they must maintain it in healthy ways. I had a model friend who was 6-feet and a size zero. Her hips bones jutted out and her spine poked through her back, but she didn’t have an eating disorder. She had the runway body type. So many young girls strive for this completely unrealistic frame that only a handful of women have. 

It’s courageous for the CFDA to take on this trend of unhealthy tactics head on instead of ushering it under the rug and trying to hide any bad publicity.

And even though deterring bad publicity is probably one of the CFDA’s main concerns, it seems like they really do care about women and sending the right message through the creative and powerful medium of fashion. “We each have the power to impact the lives of women. Together, we can let the world know that diversity and Health Is Beauty are what we stand for,” Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb wrote in a letter on the CFDA’s website.

Models now have to be 16 or older to walk the runway. Providing healthy snacks and a smoke free environment during shoots and fittings are other objectives. They are also working on developing workshops on eating disorders and having models seek professional help if they have an eating disorder.

Clothes are important, but the women who wear them are far more valuable.

2 Comments

Filed under art, Entertainment, Fashion, Feature, Features, Food, Health, News, Opinion, People, Personal