FashionAll The Rage

Wardrobes in history

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69 BC to 30 BC

Cleopatra is undoubtedly a clotheshorse. Everyday clothing worn by most women in her time includes underdresses of linen or silk with an over-robe, sometimes of the same material. An outer-cloak, or palla, is worn over both those garments. Women of substance wear bright colors such as scarlet and yellow, historians say. Cleopatra's sandals may very well be Roman; her jewels and crowns, many. But where the heck does she put all this stuff? Most likely in chests and baskets.

1792

A mob invades the Tuileries and ransacks the imprisoned Marie-Antoinette's opulent wardrobe, a symbol of noble arrogance and oppression. Earlier, a mob broke into Versailles and smashed all the mirrors in the queen's dressing room. The queen probably keeps her clothes in armoires, which originated sometime in the 16th century to hold weapons — hence the name — but which by the 1700s are used for clothing storage.

1945

Suburbia: With the end of World War II comes the housing boom in America. In tracts of new houses that rise in expanding suburbs, traditional armoires and wardrobes are replaced with walled-in spaces designed into the bedroom plans.

1968

In Delray Beach, Fla., ClosetMaid's Norm and Don Sauey invent "ventilated shelving," a system of adjustable wire racks designed to tame messy closets, launching a craze for closet organizing that has yet to abate.

1979

Princess Diana, a trend-setting clutter-buster, cleans out her closet and donates 79 dresses for charity sale at Christie's.

1981

As Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest," Faye Dunaway issues her proclamation: "No wire hangers! What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you no wire hangers? Ever!" America listens. Nearly three decades later, stores offer hangers in solid walnut, rainbow-colored plastic, no-slip textured vinyl, modern chrome and damask padding.

1986

Filipinos stand in line for hours to see the palace of fallen leaders Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Jaws drop inside the first lady's closets, which include a space dubbed Imelda's Department Store by volunteer guides. The room has 37 clothes racks packed with more than 1,000 gowns and mink stoles. More than 2,600 pairs of shoes are on display, and two giant racks hold hundreds of imported leather purses. Her imported underwear is piled in a heap nearly 4 feet high.

1993

Madonna renovates her new home Castillo del Lago, a Spanish-style castle in the Hollywood Hills built in the 1920s for Bugsy Siegel. Among Madonna's changes: converting one-third of the master bedroom into a shoe closet.

2002

In "Panic Room," Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart play a mother and daughter who take refuge from burglars in a glorified closet equipped with a bulletproof steel door, food, water and fire blankets. In the real world, builders of panic rooms report brisk post- 9/11 business, with clients shelling out as much as $500,000.

2005

Pre-recession America: In an article titled "Walk-In? More Like Live-In," the L.A. Times Home section reports on fashion-frenzied Southern Californians spending $80,000 to $120,000 to trick out monster closets averaging 500 square feet. Accoutrements du jour: ottomans, TVs, mini fridges, sinks, sound systems, three-way mirrors, chandeliers and "shoe chambers," which are closets within closets devoted to footwear.

2006

Authors Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman examine clutter in American life in "A Perfect Mess." Among their subjects are Meg and Ben, a semi-anonymous Manhattan couple living in a two-bedroom, $1.5-million apartment with maxed-out closet space. Meg reveals her husband's solution: a shower stall converted into storage for their overflowing belongings, which include stuffed animals, an unused yoga mat, a seashell collection, handcuffs and a guitar.

2008

In the much-anticipated "Sex and the City" movie, Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) finally gets the closet of her dreams — an epic, brightly lighted, obsessively shelved space. The iPhone app titled "Sex and the City: Carrie's Closet" launches, promising: "You can photograph and share your favorite fashion ensembles with friends. Take pictures of items you have — or want to have — and invite your pals to provide feedback. Sometimes planning the perfect outfit requires a team effort!"

2010

Post-recession America: Closets magazine estimates 2010 spending on master bedroom closet projects to average $2,804, down 7% from the previous year.

June 2010

Artist and heiress Daphne Guinness derails the planned auction of the incredible wardrobe of her late friend, stylist and fashion muse Isabella Blow, by buying the whole thing. Included are more than 50 outfits by Alexander McQueen, pieces by John Galliano and 50 Philip Treacy hats. Guinness likens the pieces to a collection of art that shouldn't be dispersed.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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BookTelevisionEntertainmentMadonnaFaye DunawayDiana, Princess of Wales
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