How many women can honestly say, without crossing fingers behind backs, that they have not gone weak-kneed at the sight of that oh so alluring designer dress, which sparkles so suggestively in the shop window? It can be safely assumed, judging by the popularity of such dresses, that those who answer 'no' are in the minority.
Seemingly innocent at first glance, the power a beautifully designed garment can hold over a person, is astonishing. Just go to any designer shop and you will hear the agonised mutterings of 'Oh, I really should not … No, I'm not going to buy it … Well, there's no harm in just trying it on .. Oh God, I love it … No, I can not buy it … Ok, just this once … '
The heart usually prevails and the person in question returns home with the contented feeling they have just bought something special; something that not everyone else has. This is the lure of the designer.
Although clothing's fundamental purpose is to protect the body from nature's elements, its role has radically altered over time. Historians believe the first clothes consist of materials like fur, leather and leaves, which were wrapped around a person's body, thus sheltering them from the weather. In today's society however, clothes are viewed more as a statement about an individual, rather than being necessary for their survival.
Advances in technology, such as central heating, helped to bring about this change, but it is understood that Charles Frederick Worth, born in England in 1825, shaped the world of clothing, and in particular, women's dressmaking; thus giving birth to the term 'fashion' in the way we understand it today.
After moving to France to work for Parisian drappers, Gagelin and Opigez, Mr Worth married one of their models, where he began making dresses for her. Soon after, customers began asking for replicas of the dresses, which prompted him to seek financial backing for his own dressmaking business.
In time, he became named for his designs, which were much simpler and said to be more flattering for the lady's figure than others of the time; he has become popular with an array of rich, distinguished women, including royalty and the famous. He also moved away from letting women design garments themselves, and instead chose to display his own designs at fashion shows, which were held four times a year.
So the rise of the designer dress began, and other fashion designers followed suit to create whole collections of designer clothes.
Fashion designers are now commonplace, designing clothing for individual clients, specialty stores and / or high-fashion department stores. What distinguishes their clothing from the norm is the originality of design, coupled with the limited availability of garment numbers.
This, essentially, is what makes designer clothing so bought after and is why those skilfully crafted designer dresses can make one go weak-kneed in praise – not only at the thought of possessing one, but also in the knowledge that they own something unique.