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Haute Couture in Paris: History of Style & Fashion Engineering Program Spring 2025 Semester - Paris

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Haute Couture in Paris: History of Style & Fashion

Haute Couture in Paris: History of Style & Fashion Course Overview


CEA CAPA Partner Institution: CEA CAPA Paris Center
Location: Paris, France
Primary Subject Area: Art History
Other Subject Area: Fashion Design
Instruction in: English
Course Code: ARH361
Transcript Source: University of New Haven
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: None, but one 20th century European history course is recommended.


We have come a long way from our ancient and basic need to protect ourselves from the cold and from our earliest biblical impulse to hide our nakedness. The fig leaf is but one, old testament to our basic desire for 'dressing up'. But across this modern age, most of us can now dress for pointed social, cultural and psychological purposes. And this we do - often with a vengeance - in a subtle and complex effort to affirm our values and aspired social rank, to dissimulate our many fears and insecurities, and often to proclaim our anger and attendant political agenda. And Haute Couture - the industry of luxury fashion, design and dressing up - has always been at in the spot light of this fascinating social phenomenon.

To trace this evolution in fashion and style, this course is designed as a survey of the past 200 years of designing, making, wearing and commenting upon the clothes we wear. You will begin by tracing out the origins of Haute Couture by threading your way back into late 17th century aristocratic circles and their social customs of dress. You continue your historical exploration by analyzing the fabric of 18th and 19th century bourgeois mentality, sensibility and insecurity. Taken together, these early fashion and stylistic efforts help you unravel the complexities and diverse impulses of 20th century fashion designers and their creations.

Indeed, this walk through the history of fashion places particular emphasis on the evolution of 20th century creativity, where we will expose the social and stylistic response to the late industrial era, the experience of World War, and to post-war peace, prosperity and consumerism. By looking at Jeanne Paquin's Belle Époque creations, at Coco Chanel's emergence during World War I, at American designer influence on German-occupied Europe, at Jean-Paul Gaultier's daring designs of the 3rd millennium, and at the environmentally, socially and ethnically conscious designs of today, the pattern that emerges is a fashion industry fully embroidered into the historical, political, and artistic fabric of the times.

This course will also focus on the many benchmarks in women's fashion - the liberation from the corset, the introduction of pants into the women's wardrobe of fashion, the challenge to the textile industry with the arrival of mini-skirts and the explosive impact of the bikini. You will also learn the techniques and methods of creating a collection and gain the ability to analyze the aesthetic and artistic quality of designs, by considering the definitions of elegance, style and innovation. You will go to the creative source for much of your information - visiting fashion houses, speaking with designers, and stepping into local Parisian fashion scenes.

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