Samiya Sultan focused on significant historical eras including the Victorian era, the 1920s and the 1960s, examining how femininity has altered in fashion since the 1800s.
Women were supposed to dress modestly during this time since femininity equated purity, domesticity and modesty. They wore long, flowing gowns with high necklines. During this time, the restricting character of women’s clothes reflected cultural expectations of women as obedient and dutiful housewives. The traditional ideas of femininity began to embrace a more carefree and independent lifestyle in the 1920s. With lower hemlines, dropped waistlines and more straightforward designs, clothing styles become looser and less constricting. Fashion today is more inclusive and diverse than before, reflecting the evolving ideas about what femininity should be like.
Sultan’s research is based on the transition of femininity since the 1800s and how that has impacted how delicate womenswear is today. Her project concentrated on silk cloth given its substantial historical association. She planned to revive certain fabrics and styles from the past, upgrading them for today’s society and giving them a mix-and-match feel which will demonstrate that the femininity of the past is not lost today.
Throughout this project, Sultan experimented with a variety of shapes, colours and prints that were popular at the time, as well as ways to modernise them. Popular prints included floral, geometric and scenic designs with lots of bold, bright colours. Paisley, toile de Jouy and chintz were some of the most used textile prints during the 1800s.
Silk is a delicate fabric often used to create feminine, sophisticated clothing. Its luxurious feel and soft touch make it great for womenswear, whilst its slight sheen adds a subtle sophistication to any look. Silk drapes nicely for a delicate, graceful look. Also popular for eveningwear and formal occasions, it is classic and timeless. Sultan wanted to mix the sensual, delicate and powerful characteristics of femininity, so used colours that convey these qualities. Pink is generally associated with femininity, sensuality and romance; teal has peaceful, creative and serene connotations; whilst red is an intense hue linked to passion and bravery.