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    Baby fashion


    • Baby Fashion is a social-cultural consumerist practice that encodes in children's fashion the representation of many social features and depicts a system characterized by differences in social class, richness, gender or ethnicity.

      In the past centuries Baby Fashion assumed distinctive features between social classes. Dresses had a powerful potential in displaying social distinction. In general Baby Fashion was exploited by the high classes, or the so-called elite, to traduce symbols of power, wealth, richness. Children's appearance was useful to represent the family's position in the society. While, on the other side, the working classes were not involved in this kind of practice, since clothes should have been practical and not expensive. It must be remembered that in the feudal society, as in the industrial society, children worked as well as adults. The symbolic value of Baby Fashion between high classes and the nobility was not only a western peculiarity. For example, in some African or oriental countries colors and shapes took a particular importance, while Western elites concentrated on fabrics and precious materials. But probably Western European Fashion put a stronger stress on the representation of social position through clothing; in fact, this practice became customary already in the late 13th century. Family paintings and portraits were very common between the European high classes, so today we have plenty of examples of ancient Baby Fashion features. A particular characteristic of ancient Baby Fashion is the absence of marked gender distinctions between young children. After a certain age, girls were painted in big gowns, and boys in trousers, or commonly military uniforms. But before they reached ten years of age, usually, children were represented wearing gowns, no matter if they are boys or girls. The symbols of wealth and power are translated by these rich dresses, with huge gowns full of trims, ornaments, and embroidered details. This kind of style developed in the Spanish Court in the 14th century and became common also in other Catholic Countries as Italy or France. This rich style makes very difficult, almost for a modern observer, to recognize boys from girls. Many examples come from 17th and 18th century European Court, where family paintings where very important expressions of power. In France Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun's paintings represented young Mary Antoinette's children, and the younger Queen's son is dressed in a white, soft, traditional gown and coif.

      Clothes have long been used to hide sexual differences in its strong biological sense and, at the same time, to point up and signal it through assumptions concerning gender in clothing codes. Fashion thus helps to reproduce gender as a form of body style, producing a complex interplay between sexed bodies and gendered identities. If children's clothes, in the past, were used to differentiate those belonging to rich families from those coming from poor ones, today clothes are a symbol of gender differentiation. Moreover, the imitating model has changed over years. In the past nobility owned what was perceived as an ideal style paradigm. While nowadays, the upper-middle class embodies the ideal fashion; especially, in today's pop culture, this role is covered by celebrities and the so-called V.I.P.



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