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Fashion: anatomy of a word.

Academic research

Fashion: anatomy of a word

Bruno Remaury —

The French word for fashion “mode” appeared for the first time as a term for “a collective way of dressing” in 1482. The term is rooted in the Latin word modus (manner, measure), and the term “mode” from 1393 on came to mean manner, then “façon” which led to the English term fashion. Dressing “à la mode nouvelle” (in the new fashion) from 1549 became “être à la mode” (to be in fashion). The eras at which these different semantic shifts occurred are far from neutral and can be seen as key dates in the development of fashion in the modern sense of the term. Each time a new social situation (the appearance of new competitors), technological progress (transformation of materials, distribution of items) and economic developments (commercial trade, distribution structures) occurred, they provided fashion with the elements essential for its development.

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