Wacoal

Label of Japanese women’s underwear. It occupies a leading position in worldwide production. Turnover, continually increasing, was some 80 billion liras in 1992 for 100 million items a year. The company arrived in Europe in 1992, establishing a subsidiary in France, in order to reinforce the image of a high fashion lingerie in the European market as well. It later expanded to the American market, with investments in production in the free zones of the Caribbean.

Wada

Emi (1937). Japanese costume designer. Winner of an Oscar for the extraordinary mediaeval costumes in Ran (1986) by Akira Kurosawa, a warrior saga in which the armies wear symbolic colors: red for violence, light blue for innocence, and yellow ambiguity. Born in Kyoto, she was also active in theatrical set design. In 1987 the festival of Cannes awarded her a prize for her creations.

Wadsworth Atheneum

Hartford, Connecticut. An American museum with permanent collections of outfits and fabrics. The women’s outfits date back to the mid-eighteenth century, with a collection of American high fashion. There is a unique collection of costumes from Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, along with sketches by the artists who worked on them. There is a varied collection of fabrics, ranging from fifteenth-century Italian tapestries to contemporary textile art. The collection of silks by the Cheney Brothers, the largest manufacturer in New England for over a hundred years, is available to scholars. The well stocked library is open to the public. The museum’s collection is shown in special themed exhibits twice a year.

Waffle fabric

Linen, cotton, or woolen fabric with a weave that creates a grid of lines in relief alternating with indentations. The resulting motif resembles the cells of a honeycomb. It is also used in knitwear.

Waikiki

Hawaiian shirt, as loose-fitting as a kaftan, worn outside the belt, with side vents, broad, open neck, brightly colored tropical patterns. It takes its name from the beach in Honolulu and is also known as an “Aloha shirt.”

Wainwright

Janice (1937). British fashion designer. She studied at the Kingston College of Art in London and then enrolled in the Royal College of Art, where she now teaches. At the end of the 1960s she was considered one of the brightest talents in Swinging London. Her preferences range from dinner and evening wear to luxurious fabrics, bright colors, embroidered jersey enriched with precious appliqués. Her lines are always quite feminine, fluid and seductive. Her prêt-à-porter dates back to 1974.

Waistcoat

One the three elements in a man’s three-piece suit: sleeveless, buttoned in front with a V neck or lapels, it is worn over the shirt and under the jacket. It is the only element in a man’s suit that allows a little personal fantasy. The front is made of cloth, the back of silk, with two strips at the back that tighten the waistcoat with a small buckle. It first appeared in its present form in the 1800s. Its first incarnation was under the name gilet in the second half of the 17th century, with sleeves and worn under a justicoat (from the French just-au-corps from the reign of King Louis XIV). In Venice in 1700 it was named camiziola or camisola and its transformation began. At the end of the 19th century it became part of a woman’s wardrobe. In the late 1960s it often replaced the jacket in a pantsuit, and can be very long, almost to the knee. Other than in fabric, it can be manufactured also in knitwear, with or without sleeves, with or without buttons in the front, in the latter case rather similar to a cardigan. At the end of the 1980s, designers created elegant and sophisticated versions, reminiscent of the rich waistcoats of the 18th century. It is made in silk, jacquard, taffeta, velvet, or damask, and either plain dyed or decorated with floral patterns, enriched by embroideries and decorations.