Illustrator Kate Greenaway's Influence on Children's Fashion





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Published on May 23, 2012

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The idyllic and pastoral worlds created by Victorian-era author and illustrator Kate Greenaway had tremendous impact on not only children's literature, but also children's fashion, both in Greenaway's home pastures of England, and across the pond in America.

When exploring Greenaway's art, it is impossible not to notice both how carefree, content and happy the children she created were, and the exquisite detail she paid to their clothes. Greenaway had such a specific vision in her mind that she designed these old-fashioned children's clothes herself and often had children pose for drawings in them. Smocked dresses and frocks, bonnets and straw hats, loose muslin dresses and more - the overwhelming sensation evoked by these clothes was one of innocence and simplicity.

Greenaway portrayed the rural life of a country child as so idyllic and romanticized that urban, fashionable city folk of the time took up the romanticized version of reality and began adopting into their own fashion.

The aesthetic of dressing little girls in a manner hearkening back to the more simple days of their grandparents became so popular that a prominent English department store, Liberty's of London, developed a clothing line directly inspired by Greenaway's art, and mothers and fathers alike delighted in the return to old-fashioned, hyper-modest dress.

Quaint and dainty became the fashion words of the moment for children's-wear, and the fact that Greenaway's drawings were historically inaccurate to the period did nothing to dissuade or alienate readers - on the contrary, they pronounced her outdated creations "charming", and the strange fashion choices seemed to increase the appeal of her stories for many audiences.

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