Sunday, December 11, 2011

Etienne de Silhouette

A silhouette is a likeness cut from dark material and mounted on a light background..or the opposite.The term originated with Etienne de Silhouette, the French finance minster during a period of financial austerity brought on by the Seven Years War (1756-1763).  Due to his severe economic policies, his name became synonymous with anything done or made cheaply. A profile cut from black paper is an inexpensive portrait.

Silhouette is a term often used to describe a fashion. I am currently working on a lesson plan for my students about the fashion cycle. Today the beginning/ending of a 'fashion' is about 18-24 months. I want them to also be aware of the 'long view'...say 100 years (1810-1910). The female fashion silhouette (basically 3 shapes:bell, bouffant and straight) has changed from

Empire style with stays (Napoleon was trying to create a French empire)

to the bell shape of American Civil War dresses supported by hoops

by the late was a bouffant style with bustle 

Each of these styles had distinctive undergarments.The Flapper discarded all corseting and returned to the straight silhouette.

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