Fall 2018


From Bustles to Miniskirts: A Century of French Fashion (55+)

What do the fluctuations in women’s fashion tell us about changes in women’s status over time? How have different designers challenged the status quo, looked to the future and celebrated the past?

We’ll explore the lives of twelve leading French designers—including Jeanne Paquin (1869–1936), “Lucile” (1863–1935), Coco Chanel (1883–1971), Christian Dior (1905–1957), Yves Saint Laurent (1936–2008) and Hedi Slimane (b. 1968)—and analyze their iconic designs in connection with the times they were created for. Taking in 100 years of French and international fashion, we’ll consider silhouettes from curves to straight lines and back, colours from shocking pink to the black of the little black dress, femininity, modesty, gender codes and more.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Mary Lynn Stewart $115.00 22 Register

What will I learn?

Week 1: The Age of Opulence and Curves    

Charles Worth (1825-1895) and Jeanne Paquin (1869–1936): monobosums, wasp waists, and bustles for ladies of leisure.

Week 2: Revival or Revolution?  Straight Silhouettes

Paul Poiret (1879-1944) and Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon, “Lucile” (1863-1935): flat breasts, no waistlines, and slimmer skirts for the modern woman.

Week 3: Two Couturières Change the Rules

Coco Chanel (1883-1971) and Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973): little black dresses, shocking pink and surrealism for the working woman.

Week 4: The New Look or the Old Femininity?

Christian Dior (1905-1957) and Valentino (b. 1932): back to curves and elegance after the Second World War.

Week 5: Challenging the Gender and Modesty Codes in the 1960s and 1970s:

Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008): pant suits, miniskirts and sheer blouses.

Week 6: Revisioning since the 1970s 

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Marc Bohun for Dior, Hedi Slimane for Dior and Saint Laurent.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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