Remodeling the concept of ‘Fashion’

Hasselt has one of the most important museums in Europe: The Fashion Museum. Last monday we visited the current exhibition ‘Label it — Trademarks in Fashion’.

“What is fashion to you?”. With that question started our visited tour in the Fashion Museum of Hasselt with Cathy Paredis. The answers, of course, were all different: For some of us fashion is about the trends on the walkways, for others fashion is a way of expression, for others is a way of doing art. Of course there is no correct neither incorrect answers.

Modemuseum Hasselt brings us the exhibition ‘Label it — Trademarks in Fashion’ from the 1st of October until February 12 (2017). It shows the differents trademarks that have succeed over the years with their main designers and it made us reflect on why they have such an important weight in our society.

Part of the collection shown in the Fashion Museum.
Dress from Paul Poiret.

To start our visit we went back in time to France of the 18th century.

The long, big and outrageous dresses that women used to wear with corsets and petticoats appear in our minds.

At the beggining of that century Paul Poiret stands out in the society for his dresses’ models. A lot of people from all over the world prefer his fashion style. That’s why with him the brand is born. He creates his own brand and style and people like it. He also starts to commercialise his dresses and put his signature on the label. One of the main reasons why he became so famous is because he designed dresses for all kind of people, wealthy or poor, it didn’t care. It is typical that his dresses have the buttons on the front. This is because in the past, rich people use to have servants to dress them up, so poor people couldn’t wear that kind of clothes. Poiret starts to put the buttons on the front in order to allow poor people to be fashionable and to dress themselves.

At the same time other designers start to pop up. Fashion was becoming a market, and a very important one. That’s why when labels started to pop up, so did fake labels: Really similar pieces of clothes as the created, but they weren’t made by those designers, they were a copy made by someone else. This became quite popular because the price was much cheapper and the style was almost the same. Only years later some regulations were set against these fakes copies.

But as we go by the history and the museum we keep seeing more designs by Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Raf Simons, Vivian Westwood, Moschino… All of them world-named and with their own style -which quite differs, as shown in the exhibition-. But as our guide Cathy remarked, “all the fashion goes back and forth, some modern designers find inspiration in the older history and that reflect in their designs.”

I’m not really into fashion so visiting this exhibition I have discovered a lot of interesting things as how to search the clothes of the main designers. Dior always makes dresses more comfortable for women in the way that they adapt to the shape of the body. While Balenciaga always does really big shapes. Also I have seen the trademarks evolve thorought the history and learned to understand better the trends.

Dress of Dior showed at the exhibition.

So trying to figure out what is fashion for me, I have realized that fashion is more than what we see on the walkways or in the magazines. It is all what we put on our own body. It is our perfume, our hairstyle. It is our way of acting and how we decorate our places. It is the way we show ourselves to the world, and there is always a story behind that.