The history of clothing is as old as that of humanity itself. From the time human
consciousness first awakened from animal nature, we humans have wrapped our
bareness in clothing, very much the way Adam and Eve did with fig leaves. The first
human clothes were animal pelts, a sign of supremacy over other animals by virtue of
our superior physical skills and intelligence. Humans used weapons and tools to kill
animals, skin their hides, and eat their meat.
Fur served to help humans conserve body heat and survive the ice ages, but
conversely led to the devolution of body hair. The ability to maintain a constant body
temperature, whatever the climate, is thought to have contributed to making human
estrus, or sexual gheat,h constant as well, this permanent mating season greatly
strengthening the human capacity to propagate. Likewise, clothing came to conceal our
genitalia while enhancing physical measures of attraction, enabling us to consciously
control our reproductive activities. These added, interrelated dimensions of clothed
body expression must have played a major role in the socializing process and the rise
By the age of the earliest civilizations, humans had gained the knowledge of how to
weave and dye plant fibers, and as primitive communal society stratified into classes,
clothing came to symbolize rank and status. Figures of authority in particular made
extra display of their power and wealth by means of special clothing and adornment.
In India, China, Korea, Japan, and elsewhere in Asia\as in Mesopotamia, Egypt,
Greece, and Rome\ancient civilizations each developed a unique culture of attire.
In the early fifteenth century, Europe entered the age of seafaring and exploration,
Gender awareness again came to the fore in the 1920s\after World War I\and the
while scientific advancements led to an ever more logical mindset and with it a rational
worldview of a spherical planet\which grew gsmallerh with every new discovery.
Thereafter, European imperialist expansion encompassed almost the entire world, this
overwhelming rule establishing a primacy of Eurocentric standards of dress that
became synonymous with modernization.
progressive emancipation and elevation of women earned fashion an important place
in modern life, thanks especially to the pioneering efforts of Madeleine Vionnet and
Gabrielle gCocoh Chanel. The Dada, surrealist, and futurist avant-garde art movements
further influenced fashion, and this fusion of fashion and art has continued into the
present day. Stylized Sculpture looks at the post-Vionnet history of fashion with a view
toward the human body clothed in gartificial skinh as modern sculpture.
- Hiroshi Sugimoto