Fashion in Slovakia in century longer than 100 years (end of 18th century up to 1918)

Equality of rights in clothing got into political programme of French revolutionists and by a decree of Congress a democratic principle in clothing has been declared in 1973, and this one definitively confirmed the possibility to put on freely. Yes, also the way of clothing became self-contained provision connected with articulation of personal freedoms of the individual! Classicistic and empire style in clothing in France overstepped really social differences between nobility and rich townspeople. Neither the Restoration in France nor conserved monarchist systems could stop the force of coming-into-existence civic society which began to propagate itself through whole Europe.

Retarded after-effects

On the territory of Slovakia the building-up of civic society happened in unfavourable politic conditions. The townspeople were still small-numerous and economically weak social class in first half of 19st century. Despite fact that the state (Metternichian regime) had commanded the public life into all consequences, civic activities were bound to cultural happening in high degree. In premises of public reading rooms, spas ad town casinos emancipation process of middle class took place. Progressive ideas were bound also to way of life and identity with new opinions was demonstrated also by introduction of novelties in clothing. In the state whole of Austrian empire the clothing fashion even overtook the democratization political changes. As late as in 1948 the March laws contributed to funding the modern civic     society, however, there were social inequalities up to the end of monarchy in practice. In this still conservative scheme universalization of clothing fashion played an important role at democratization of society. However, practices of segregation also between aristocracy and rich townspeople persisted yet long in political practice. Process of social emancipation of townspeople and of its acceptation by nobility will go by in Europe entire 19th century. However, in culture of clothing it has been currently accepted already in the first half of 19th century that the types of clothing components, their names, colourfulness cut or accessories were worn by members of both social classes. In other words, also the man that still had not election right (e.g. a watchmaker in small town) could wear fashion clothing. And it is necessary to emphasize that it was without provoking the higher classes of society by such behaviour. The way how he put on became his civic right, personal choice dependent already from only property possibilities.

To the fact in order the different social classes began voluntarily to dress in spirit of equal aesthetic standards it was necessary they began to accept and prefer some aesthetic ideal over other standard (at aristocracy and nobility for example over hierarchy of estates or over tradition of estates).  In the first half of 19th century the values were gradually born with commencement of modern period and they stood high in hierarchy. In the modern society the category of novelties acquired unprecedented value. Patent offices have been overburdened by new ideas in 19th century known as the century of discoveries and inventions. The industrial revolution was implemented by their introduction into practice. The meaning of novelty has acquired in broader perception of modern town society on great significance. The novelty is result of longing for change which becomes an important tool of development in industrial society of 19th century. Legitimacy of the furthermore unparalleled things mastered also behaviour of people in connection with clothing. The following of novelty was becoming manifestation of modernness whether for mobility or for townspeople. From the first half of 19th century there is no more usual in clothing practice for the nobility to restrict the townspeople in their way of clothing. Noblemen or noblewomen have put on a fashion novelty although its form has been connected with townsman´s way of life or clothing. New clothing trend was sign of modernness and social symbol of fact that the bearer is in the middle of things and he is well-informed and on pulse of the day, so to speak.

Various inventions and industrialization of textile production were mechanisms which enabled social mimicry. New production procedures emulated hand-made textile techniques. In textile development it can be spoken thanks to the industrial reproduction about period of first imitations. Jacquard loom represented a significant discovery which simplified production of luxurious figured clothes (trouser stripes, damasks, brocades and so on). The inventions connected with machine production of tulle, laces and embroidery are binding together with England. Availability of these products – not only the price availability but also the physical one – has leads to flexibility of clothing novelties. We connect a change in clothing stereotypes in connection with materials also with cotton, which was gradually varied from luxurious material to more available one from the 18th century, but it has been still expensive material. Just the 19th century uses to be designated also as century of cotton. Its spreading and popularity have been supported also by physical properties of cotton: easier washability, warming ability, tensile strength, abrasion resistance, ability to absorb humidity, tactile. Propagation of new technologies in the textile production stood also at birth of new centres of textile industry. That was not only a couple of French, English and Italian regions with ancient tradition of manufacturing the fabrics but founding of new manufactures and workshops dispersed this production and thereby it contributed also to availability of fabrics.

In unifying the clothing style between aristocracy and townspeople also period journals and newspapers took part. They became gradually inseparable part of life also of town man. By spreading the fashion novelties they began to create patterns in both different social environments which became binding standard of behaviour. The journals brought not only art forms of clothing but they informed also about type of clothing; they determined its social occasion respectively. At some fashion small pictures also an information was situated where (address) and with who (firm´s name, tailor´s name and name of modiste) can be bought displayed models. This form of advertisement for individual producers of period fashion clothes will be still perfected during the course of 19th century through fashion journals towards informing about materials and decorations on clothing even also on cuts.

Also new types of shops, fashion houses arising in big European metropolis played an important role in spreading the fashion novelties: La belle jardinière (1824, Paris), David a Valentin Mannheimer (1837, Berlin), Rudolf Hertzog (1839, Berlin). They associated dealers and producers of fashion goods under the same roof. Customers of these shops came exclusively from lower middle class; the aristocracy and bourgeoisie had their clothes manufactured, and namely only made-to-measure. Price accessibility of products and the fact that the clothing and accessories imitating quality fashion dresses have been in offer they together made possible to townspeople to get dressed according to the trends.

The founder of department store La belle jardinière Pierre Parisot is deemed for pioneer of ready-to-wear clothing because he had the clothes made in advance and he was selling them: at the earliest working clothes later also clothes for townspeople. He was selling for cash he had fixed and clearly defined prices. This method was spread from him into other French but also European towns. In fashion journals also advices for cuts making will be found gradually. Also offering letters of fabric manufactures contributed to the distribution of topical novelties in textile yardage; often with precisely intended purpose of usage of particular samples of fabrics.  Such offering letters have been distributed by Vienna firms, e.g. Mestrozi, Wiener and Söhne, J. Blümeland&Co.

Last but not least it is necessary to mention development in area of postal transport which caused scatter of fashion novelties into far-flung corners also of Hungary by rise of horse-drawn railway at the earliest and of the vapour one later. Offering catalogues of firms, fashion journals or cut supply (packages) were current goods which were got to proprietors and female owners.

Along the department stores also economic exhibitions played significant role in spreading the novelties (not only clothing novelties and textile ones) whether general world exhibitions or specialized international ones as well regional expositions which were domesticated in all European countries during the course of the first half of 19th century. In the course of several days they concentrated the producers, their products, information to them and they became extraordinary economic and social events about which it was written in period print. At the exhibitions also producers of clothing and textile, textile accessories (shoes, handbags, parasols and so on) took part. They were source of topical trends and knowledge on various technologies and production techniques they helped to initiate business and specialized connections as well to look for new markets and sales outlets but except for this they recapitulated not only but also prefigured the development trends. From the beginning they have been linked also with exhibitions of fine and applied arts thereby they had distinctive share in formation of general aesthetical good taste.

Historisms in clothing

Under influence of classicism nostalgic tendencies were manifested also in clothing from the seventies of 18th century which were causing that the highest social classes got dressed in spirit of past periods. A liking in antiquity was fully manifested in classicism; in period of romanticism medieval and renaissance influences dominated. During the second rococo the political but also aesthetical inspiration started in ancienrégime especially in 18th century. The fashion of bustle has been let to be inspired yet by rococo but also by baroque. In female wardrobe, however, the vogue of inspiration by ancient fashion up to Great War persisted.

Waves of historicizing influences were equally concerned women as well men up to the half of 19th century. Those, however, turned definitively to abstemiously acting clothing and they retained the link to the past on the representative costumes, for example in Hungary to Hungarian clothing which was born already in 16th century. They manifested nostalgia for the past also at numerous masquerades where were varied in diverse historical figures.

This tilt to the past manifesting itself also in style of dressing of the 19th century acts in link to being born civic society up to paradoxically. However, the townspeople which become bearer of modern political and social changes help each other to build self-confidence also thanks to imitation of nobility life style. Thereto the clothing helps to it most distinctively. The clothes imitate monumental and expensive clothing styles of the past. The historisms represent for aristocracy a nostalgia for monarchist regimes of which certainty has been disrupted already in 19th century.

Binding etiquette

The etiquette in clothing started to complicate from the first half of the 19th century. In the course of the day the woman chose prudently the gown according to fact where and how she was about to spend the time. For horse riding it was necessary to have special riding costume; in summer cotton light dress; for walking on the city promenade elegant formal walking dress which demonstrated status of farther or husband; for travelling nonstriking complete; for stay in country as well on Riviera or in spa a more representative clothing. Clothes intended for festive events being held during the day required other cut and other accessories than solemn evening clothes. Basic difference between daily and evening types of dresses has been therein that evening dress used to be distinctively low-necked often without sleeves and of course, of more expensive textiles; the only acceptable material was silk and they used to be completed by jewels. However, daily festive clothes were always worn with long sleeve without décolletage and they had to be manufactured also of cotton. Less formal daily clothes could (should) be manufactured already from other materials, e.g. riding clothing, travelling winter clothes of wool, summer clothing to the sea and into spa made of cotton or linen; also mixture fabrics were admissible – wool or cotton with silk. For daily dress large dimension collars reminding small pelerines were worn. Their function was unambiguous – they chastely covered up the neck line. For this purpose also dickies served which the women inserted into the décolletages. The using of gloves was natural and it was required not only into the exterior but also to some formal gowns. In spite of this that the custom to hold out hands to somebody “will break out” fully only in the second half of the 20th century the people of higher social classes (also men) still protected themselves their hands.

The ability to be well-dressed did not mean to get dressed aesthetically or luxuriously but duly according to social event or part of the day. Social and aesthetical adequacy of the dress was already solved also by means of clothing accessories. Less wealthy women had not financial means for more types of daily and evening gowns they adapted themselves the dresses for concrete event by accessories. Trifles have delivered to the gown the right style: for example to walking gown they took always parasol and hat. Protection against sun rays has been inevitable because only pale porcelain complexion was considered for noble and beautiful one for the entire 19th century. The working class had faces marked by sun. Some parasols did have a small roof made of impregnated textile thus they could serve to the female owner also like a protection against lighter rains.