The costume history textbook presents the classic study of western garments. The students follow the evolution of costume starting with origin of clothing from ancient to modern times, covering the most powerful states of each history period such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, England etc.
Each chapter in history is accompanied by series of visuals. Detailed notes clearly state the particulars of women's and men's clothes. The designers have to research and complete a number of history assignments. The syllabus also includes drawing history project for 20th Century fashion.
Full-time: 4 hours per week over 2 months
Part-time: 2 hours per week over 4 months
Garments constructed by students from CRE - click image to enlarge
Example Lesson excerpt: Corset History
The period 1810 to 1910 is famous for the Victorian corset. It made the waist smaller, creating curved shape on the bust and the hips. The shoulders and hips were further exaggerated with wide style lines. All corsets laced up on the back to achieve tight fit. The procedure is called tight- lacing. Often there was a front opening called busk.
Children wore corsets as well. It was believed to be of medical importance. With time the corsets were made longer and tighter. When girls became teenagers they were unable to sit or stand without their corsets supported by whalebone or steel boning.
The corsets deformed the internal organs, making it impossible for women to breathe deeply. That is why Victorian women were often fainting.
Except for special occasions working class women wore loser corsets with simpler designs and less weight. It was a status question to have a tiny waist during the period.
The most interesting period for corsets is 1810 to 1910 but it is much older than that. In Europe it is in general use as an undergarment since the Middle Ages, but it actually dates from several thousand years before that. Corset drawings were found in caves dating 5000 years before Christ.
Corsets have at all times been used for moulding the body, making the waist smaller and raising the bust.
The iron corset cast out of metal is in use from 1500 to 1700. Women wore it padded from the inside and covered with silk, which was of low quality but extremely expensive at that time. Men wore the iron corset as an outside garment – as armour.
Parallel with the Victorian corsets there was the Edwardian corset – the same years 1810-1910. It was from the Edwardian corsets that the modern panelled corset evolved. Proper Edwardian corset was constructed from 48 panels. The more cuts a garment has, the better it envelops the body.
Corsets were most widespread during the 19th century. Almost all women of all classes wore corsets at that time. It was mass-produced. The fashion trends were formed by the upper class as they were the primary users of corsets.
There are reports for waists as from as little as 30, 35 and 45cms. However measurements of corsets in museums show that the most common waist measurement for the period was 50-55cms.
Steel eyelets were invented in 1829 and made corsets effective silhouette-makers. Hard tight lacing was practiced and the corsetry houses specialized in cultivating very small waists.
Men developed a fetish for small waists. Small waists and corsets played the same role as breast enlargement and wonder bra are playing today.
Men also wore corsets but under bust ones in order to look slimmer. Its construction was as a waistband, but broader and laced up at the lower back.