Women Fashion Designers and the Birth of Modern Dress

Women Fashion Designers and the Birth of Modern Dress

Cassidy Zachary, UNM
March 8, 2020

Lady Lucile Duff Gordon is perhaps most famous for surviving the Titanic, but she was also responsible for revolutionizing fashion at the dawn of the 20th century, one of a handful of pioneering fashion designers who designed corset-optional clothing for the modern woman. A few of these designers were men, but many more were women, including Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin and Jeanne Paquin. That the work of these women precedes that of their more famous counterpart Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel speaks to one of the most common myths surrounding modern fashion: it was a product of the 1920s. In fact, fashion was modernized in the era just before and during World War I, a time when designers redefined the shape of fashion and women redefined themselves.  

Cassidy Zachary is a fashion historian who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she has worked as a costumer and costume designer in film and television for ten plus years. Cassidy is the co-author of Fashion and the Art of Pochoir (Thames & Hudson, 2015) and a contributing author to numerous publications including the recent The Showgirl Costume (McFarland 2019). She is the co-host and creator of the weekly iHeartRadio podcast Dressed: The History of Fashion and the founder of the popular fashion history blog and Instagram, The Art of Dress.

Supported in part by Haverland-Carter Lifestyle Group, Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union
and the City of Albuquerque’s Urban Enhancement Trust Fund