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Fashion Style Icons and Design History

Otis College of Art and Design via Kadenze


While the term “Fashion Icon” is relatively modern, fashion has always been defined and redefined by bold visionaries throughout history. Images of today's celebrities and fashion mavens are ever-present, but long before the selfie, sculpture and painting captured individuals and their fashion styling. Designers still look to these powerful sources for fashion elements and inspiration, and this course will trace the history of clothing and the way that themes have been interpreted over the last 500 years.

Starting in the 15th century, we will view the fashion biographies of notable individuals and examine garments and ‘looks’ for their trend-setting elements. Fashion is extremely and pointedly cyclical, and garment elements and design ideas that look ‘fresh’ to a certain generation can often be directly or indirectly traced to a prior moment or figure in history. In this course we will look at some of these times and people, and compare and contrast them to fashion that has emerged. Contemporary designs will be reviewed to identify the reuse or redefinition of many of these details. We will progressively develop the eye and skill to sketch and create our own ideas through a creative journaling process, culminating in an original design project based on historical elements.


  • From Fashion’s Rich Renaissance to Going Baroque
    • In this session, we’ll be going over how prominent figures and styles from the 15th century to the end of the 19th century expressed wealth and power.
  • From Edward to Erte
    • This session will dive into icons from the industrial age and onward, with the most notable icon being Coco Chanel. We’ll also recognize how certain societal changes brought more freedom and exploration to women’s fashion up into the early 1920s.
  • The Turn of a Century Curves Into a Corset
    • In this session, we’ll continue looking through some informal and formal European styles that emerged throughout the Victorian era.
  • The Flirty 30s to the Sultry 70s
    • Designers throughout the 1930s and 1970s strayed from ornate garments to bring clean silhouettes and bold flares to the forefront. We'll also be looking at the influences of utility over women's fashion.
  • Flashes in the Pan to Fashions on the Lam
    • The 80s became an era of excess and materialism: With bold logos and over-the-top glamour, fashion became a visual representation of the yuppie lifestyle. These bold statements progressed into the 90s, later clashing with grunge-inspired flannels of the Seattle music scene.
  • From Research to Revelation
    • In this session, we’ll be taking major fashion elements from the previous lessons to visualize and inform our own fashion narratives.

Taught by

Amy Bond


5.0 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Fashion Style Icons and Design History

  • Anonymous
    Love learning about Fashion designing and have never seen resources like this. The videos of this course are amazing. I am thinking now of applying to Otis for this program. I am not a premium member so I am just auditing this course at the moment.
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this class. I found this class while researching about Amy Bond after her appearance on Project Runway. She is a wonderful instructor. I have had a long-time interest in fashion history and really enjoyed learning about how ideas from the past have been updated into current fashion. I really enjoyed her demonstration of how to take a design cue from a past design and re-work it into a new design. This was a wonderful course which enticed me to take other Kadenze courses of interest.
  • Anonymous
    This is a well structured and enjoyable short course and if you have an interest in fashion, you'll enjoy it.

    Amy Bond is a fantastic instructor and fashion history is surprising and interesting to learn about. The course is well paced and it is not difficult to complete the activities in the recommended time. At the end you have the chance to put some of what you have learnt into practice in a capsule collection.

    The staff at Kadenze are helpful and their system is easy to use.
  • Anonymous
    Very interesting and modern course. I learned a lot from it. Every week presents historical era with contemporary designs that took from it.
  • Safia Anjum

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