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Fashion Designers

History

Originally, people wore garments to help them maintain body temperature rather than for style. Clothing usually was handmade at home. Dress design became a profession around the 1600s. Before the invention of the sewing machine in 1846 by Elias Howe, all garments were made by hand. One of the first designers was Rose Bertin, a French milliner (creator of fashion accessories such as hats and cloaks) who dressed Marie Antoinette and influenced women's fashions before and during the French Revolution.

Women dominated dress design until 1858, when Charles Frederick Worth, an English tailor and couturier of Empress Eugenie, consort of Napoleon III, opened a salon, or fashion house, in Paris. There, he produced designs for actresses and other wealthy clients—the only individuals with enough time and money to have clothing created specifically for them. Worth was the first designer to make garments from fabrics he had selected; until that time, dressmakers had used fabrics provided by patrons. Worth also was the first designer to display his creations on live models. Today, French designers continue to dominate the field. However, the U.S. garment industry has assumed a position of leadership in clothing design and production in the last 40 years, as London and Milan also have become important fashion centers.

Today interest in fashion design is widespread thanks in part to popular television shows that showcase competition among designers or teach viewers the ins and outs of making good fashion choices.

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