Fashions are social phenomena common to many fields of human activity and thinking. Fashion houses and their associated fashion designers, as well as high-status consumers (including celebrities), appear to have some role in determining the rates and directions of fashion change. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. Fashion is a field dominated by women and primarily meant to serve women.
Men's fashions largely derived from military models, and changes in a European male silhouette are galvanized in theatres of European war, where gentleman officers had opportunities to make notes of foreign styles: an example is the "Steinkirk" cravat or necktie. The pace of change picked up in the 1780s with the increased publication of French engravings that showed the latest Paris styles; though there had been distribution of dressed dolls from France as patterns since the sixteenth century, and Abraham Bosse had produced engravings of fashion from the 1620s.
Although tailors and dressmakers were no doubt responsible for many innovations before, and the textile industry certainly led many trends, the History of fashion design is normally taken to date from 1858, when the English-born Charles Frederick Worth opened the first true haute couture house in Paris. Since then the professional designer has become a progressively more dominant figure, despite the origins of many fashions in street fashion.
A stylist is either a person who co-ordinates the clothes, jewelry, and accessories used in fashion photographs and catwalk shows or a kind of designer whose designs are based on existing things, trends, and designers collections. A buyer is responsible for ordering stocks of clothes for shops, particularly the larger chain stores. An illustrator draws and paints clothes for commercial use. Talented illustrators--among them Paul Iribe, George Lepape and George Barbier--drew exquisite fashion plates for these publications, which covered the most recent developments in fashion and beauty. A model models clothes at fashion shows or for photographs. A photographer photographs the clothes on fashion models for use in magazines, newspapers, or adverts.
Fashion design differs from costume design due to its core product having a built in obsolescence usually of one to two seasons. A season is defined as either autumn/winter or spring/summer. Ready-to-wear collections are usually presented by fashion houses each season during a period known as Fashion Week. They often wait around a season to make sure a style is going to catch on before producing their own versions of the original look. To do this, they look at what the fashion directions have been in previous seasons, keep an eye on what others in the fashion business are doing, and read fashion forecasting magazines. They also rely on knowledge of their own customers to see which styles succeeded and which were less popular in past seasons.
Fashions may vary significantly within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation and geography as well as over time.