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A Thoroughly Modern Fiber


Holeproof Hosiery., Digital ID 825360, New York Public LibraryWhile on vacation, I realized how much we take nylon fabric for granted. Yet this most twentieth-century of creations was the first fiber to be synthesized from petrochemicals. While rayon and acetate are older by a few decades, the development of nylon set off a fashion frenzy. Eight years after its introduction, nylon hosiery was a highlighted product at the San Francisco Exposition of 1939. Women clamored for this new stocking material, which proved stronger and cheaper than silk stockings. Special types of nylon fibers appeared from the 1960s on.

Nylon was the must-have synthetic until 1969, when polyester made its debut. If you want to learn even more amazing facts about this fiber, check out Nylon: the story of a fashion revolution.

On an earlier post, I had a comment asking when the pantsuit was invented. Some people are rushing to say Saint Laurent did this, but the truth may be a little less obvious. Both Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein had a great deal to do with regularizing feminine skirt suits. I’ll look into this, along with a request for information on the origins of the navy blazer, and report back later this summer.


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Great links! This post made

Great links! This post made me think about explosion of Spanx, which seems to me to basically combine the sheer nylon with the holding power of the corset...

DuPont and the invention of nylon

Here in the Theatre Division, I am on the brink of finishing a processing project involving the scripts for The Cavalcade of America. This was a well-known and popular weekly radio program produced by and for DuPont as part of a public relations effort to improve the corporation's image in the aftermath of World War I when they'd been accused of war profiteering by the Nye Committee. Each homespun tale of founding fathers' wisdom, pilgrims' determination, revolutionary courage, intrepid westward expansion, ingenious invention, female trailblazers, World War II heroism and, generally, plucky patriotism against all odds was accompanied with an advertising story trumpeting the timely invention of another new product by DuPont, like nylon fabric (and many many others). These scripts will be found eventully in *T-MSS 1942-004. regards, Christine Karatnytsky Scripts Librarian NYPL for the Performing Arts

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