A pinch of fashion and pandemics

Is fashion and pandemic related? Yes, they are if one looks at the early pandemics that struck the world and the dressing up of those times. This corona pandemic has also added face mask to the wardrobes. For centuries people have adapted new wardrobes whenever a pandemic occurred.

IndianFlash looks at some of the fashions that was in vogue at times of major pandemics

  1. Peruke Wigs (17th–19th Century Europe)

Many of us might have seen people using big wigs at least in films and even in pictures. The people of the 17th and the 18th century wore big wigs. The wearing of big wigs started when syphilis (sexually transmitted disease) swept across the European continent.

The people used wigs to hide the baldness because of the hair loss, rashes and unsightly scabs. The wig that was first used to hide all these things later became a fashion. However, the wigs went to the pavilion with better hygiene. The traces of the big wigs can be now traced to the British judges who still wear the fashionable wigs.

2. White Face Paint (16th–18th Century Europe)

One might have wondered that the women in the 17th century Europe had a chalk white face. The white face paint was nothing but lead based white powder and paint used to give an added beauty to the face. This was mainly used to cover up the scars and marks of small pox that ravaged the continent at that time.

There is a legend that Queen Elizabeth 1 was affected by small pox and she painted her face with the white powder to hide the marks. With the queen herself giving a face pack, this became a fashion.

3. “Beak” Masks (17th Century Europe)

People participating in the Venice carnival can see people in beak masks, which have its traces to the 17th century Plague. These beak masks are often used as Halloween costume. The beak masks in history come with a trench coat and a wide-brimmed hat.

Some say that the beak dress was designed by French doctor Charles de Lorme, who had treated Louis XIII. The dress was designed to be worn by a doctor who treated the deadly plague. The beak was about half a foot long and was filled with certain herbs that is believe to purify the air. It was believed that plague spread through poison in the air.

4. Pointed Corsets (19th Century Europe & the United States)

This is related to Tuberculosis, which was considered to be much fatal earlier. Women used to tighten their rib cages and internal organs with the pointed corsets.

TB was even glamorised at that time and people thought it be a disease affecting a certain class of people. Even though people did not have any disease, they went on to have pointed corsets to look slimmer.

5. Black Eye Makeup (Ancient Egypt, 4000–3100 BCE)

No picture of Cleopatra is seen without the dark eyeliner.  It is said that the Egyptian queen had the eye lid not just for beauty sake but also to keep the eyes protected from infections. The salts in the Kohl is said to protect the eyes from the infections. Moreover, the Egyptians believed that black color helped to repel the hot desert sun.



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