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Fashion Trend Cycle: 

The Game Of Catch Me If You Can

Fashion trends are never confined to a particular time, they repeat. By making re-peated appearances, fashion trends became the embodiment of each generation’s understanding of life and society.

'Her' Fashion: A Revolution

'Her' fashion is one of the everlasting themes in the fashion industry.

In recent times, designers have started to build female images that are more multidimensional. During Fashion Weeks, many brands have drawn inspiration from 'Her' fashion to establish unique styles. From chic casual to queenly dreamy tones, you see not just the clothing but women’s awakening independence and the unshackled desire for more authentic self-expression.

In retrospect, images of empowered women can be found in Florine Stettheimer’s paintings. As one of the most talented female artists in early 20th century New York, Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) kept her fashion style bold and her paintings gold. Whether hosting salons in the Upper East Side or at home with her mother and sis-ters, Stettheimer would always showcase the most daring styles of her time. 

As women rid themselves of social labels, they walk outside of the home to a stage where they can shine and decide how they dress, in defiance of what is considered socially acceptable. This has become a major impetus not just for female fashion but also progressive social change. 

Getting A Taste Of Fashion Through Paintings

To understand Stettheimer's revolutionary fashion style, let’s take a closer look at her highly acclaimed masterpiece, Heat, painted in 1919. In the painting, Stettheimer rec-ords leisure time with her mother and sisters by using eye-catching colours: orange and orangey-red spread across the canvas as the background, combined with vary-ing shades of green that render the entire painting visually pleasing.



Florine Stettheimer


Brooklyn Museum


The painting was created at a time when female fashion was facing a major turning point. During the first-wave feminist movement in the United States, women began to enjoy the new freedoms ushered in by the end of the First World War. The new era brought women prosperity and liberation from constricting pre-war clothing styles. Corsets were gradually cast aside, knee-length skirts, miniskirts, and even masculine clothing started to set new trends.

The flapper attire, in particular, was popular at that time, which is easy to detect from Stettheimer’s portrait of her family. The five women are each dressed in different styles;  Stettheimer’s mother in the centre seems conservative at first glance, but a closer look reveals that she has great style. Covered in a long black dress with an appropriate V-neck cut, the mother wears a chic black choker to accentuate the whole look with a red clutch bag on the side to strike a nice colour contrast.  Stet-theimer’s sisters are dressed more in line with the typical flapper looks of the period. They have bob haircuts, and wear stiletto heels, flared skirts and plunging necklines, indicating that they are comfortable showing more of their skin. More importantly, it’s their attitude and behaviour that stands out. Young, playful, reckless and unfazed by social conventions, Stettheimer and her sisters let their style roar and redefine womanhood.

Queen of The Upper East Side Salon

Coming from a wealthy and liberal family, Florine Stettheimer’s life was almost des-tined to be abundant and full of colour.

Born in upstate New York, Stettheimer was one of four children of affluent German-Jewish parents. At the age of ten, Stettheimer began her four-year art studies at a girls' boarding school in Berlin and received private art tuition after graduating in 1887.

She drew inspiration from the little things in life. From early Symbolism, then Fauvism and Pointillism, the artist absorbed various influences and was free to form a unique style that featured her own extravagant and decorative sensibilities.

Stehttheimer’s character and cultural milieu are prominently reflected in her dreamy, colourful, somewhat primitive-looking paintings, which depict women’s self-awakening and a life of leisure.

Throughout her life, Stettheimer was making art and living life on her own terms. She could be the queen of the Upper East Side salons, partying with some of the most fa-mous artistic and intellectual elite of the day. She could also play the role of a fair lady abiding by all the rules society required of her. The artist had always been searching for the most daring and, at the same time, the most comfortable way to live. 

As more women rise to gain more power, they socialize with unprecedented boldness, developing fashion philosophies that please themselves. In just a few decades, the momentum grew so extensively that it has become part of the global mainstream culture. From feminist artist icons like Florine Stettheimer to modern runways, women’s empowerment in fashion keeps on shining and will only shine brighter.
Heat, Florine Stettheimer, Brooklyn Museum, Fashion trend, ARTiSTORY
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