How Fashion Has Paralleled Décor Since 1850: A Timeline



< 1850s to 1900
“The Victorian Era was the upholstery era,” said Kevin Jones, curator of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum. The taste for patterns, tassels, tufts and trims—enthusiastically applied using the modern sewing machine, patented in 1846—made it hard to tell where the dress ended and the divan began. Getty Images

< Early 20th Century
Art Nouveau—a long-simmering backlash to the Industrial Revolution—brought us organic shapes inspired by nature: stained-glass Tiffany lamps and swirling appliqué trim on dresses (far right). The 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris showcased the style in architecture and interiors as well as in Parisian high fashion. The fair “brought couture to a massive public audience,” said Mr. Jones. Getty Images

< 1920s and 1930s
Cars, clothes and cocktail bars took on the clean lines and sporty silhouettes of Art Deco. The corset went the way of Prohibition thanks to Coco Chanel’s raised hemlines and dropped waists (far left). Geometric patterns (left) a la the Chrysler Building helped define the Machine Age. Metallic finishes and gleaming plastics expressed the style known in its time as “moderne.” Getty Images

< 1940s and 1950s
WWII austerity trained designers to marry form and function; postwar prosperity lent a playful, plush tone to the aesthetic. Architecture critic Thomas Hine dubbed the approachable luxury of the era “populuxe.” American purveyors included Charles and Ray Eames (plywood chair, far left) and fashion’s Claire McCardell (outfit left), credited with creating American sportswear. Getty Images

< 1960s
Fashion and furnishings incorporated basic geometric shapes and Space Age materials like PVC, molded fiberglass and Mylar. France’s Andre Courrèges’s miniskirts, go-go boots and futuristic suits (right) appeared anything but alien in cosmic interiors like the Bubble Palace, on the French Riviera (far right), or sitting in Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair. Both still look out of this world. Getty Images

< 1970s
Interior designers created “warm, exotic environments” in the Age of Aquarius, said “Hippie Chic” author Lauren Whitley. Fringe, macramé, patchwork and tapestry proliferated. Yves Saint Laurent moved to Morocco and discovered color. His work (far right) and Thea Porter’s caftans and maxi dresses found counterparts in layered rooms like Gloria Vanderbilt’s quilted and collaged boudoir (right). Getty Images

< 1980s
Chintz was chic, as seen in romantic, ruffled dresses as well as overstuffed sofas and tufted poufs. Layered florals and lace trimmings added a vintage vibe to voluminous window treatments and prairie-like dresses by Laura Ashley (far left) and Jessica McClintock. Rachel Ashwell began building her Shabby Chic empire using flea-market furniture and linen slipcovers (left). Alamy

< 1990s
Helmut Lang’s sleek ensembles (far left) proved minimalism could look decadent. Jill Sander’s tailored white suits exuded sexiness. Among the well-heeled, minimalist architecture like Richard Meier’s (left) flourished. Decorating network HGTV launched in 1994 and advocated open plans and pared-down furnishings (except for lapses into McMansion excess), with a beige-on-beige palette. Getty Images; Otto Archive

< 2000s
As architects carved living spaces out of abandoned factories and warehouses, interiors celebrated the underbelly: visible pipes, ducts, fixtures and lightbulbs (far right), warmed up by wood and exposed brick. Meanwhile, America’s Rick Owens produced urban, colorless, brooding fashion (right) frequently crafted from distressed materials, a style dubbed “glamour grunge.” Getty Images; Otto Archive

< 2010s
Since he arrived at Gucci in 2015, creative director Alessandro Michele has boldly blended disparate patterns and clashing colors (right). Meanwhile, new-bohemian and fearless interior designers ushered in Instagram-friendly maximalism (far right) that layers vintage and modern, ornamentation and unapologetic color. Getty Images; Otto Archive

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