This season, the pyjama is enjoying yet another renaissance in fashion, and in part, this is thanks to Dolce&Gabbana, who has included the pyjama both in the “Italia is Love” fashion show collection and also created a special capsule entirely dedicated to the humble yet luxurious garment.
On the 24th February, Dolce&Gabbana threw a Pyjama Party in LA, with many of the biggest movers and shakers from the jet set, Hollywood and fashion world attending in their personalized PJs. But the pyjama is not a novelty in circles known for their discerning fashion tastes and trend setting. Here is a brief history of how the simple, even humble pyjama conquered the world.
The word pyjama, and the garment was incorporated into the English language via Bengali, during the Raj. The worldwide use of pyjamas in fact is a direct result of British presence in India in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Imperial influence in the West at that time. Pyjamas, which were recorded as the “uniform” of both the Indian gentry and peasants, also transcended sex, being worn by both men and women. The pyjamas were first introduced in Britain in the 17th century, originally known as mogul’s breeches, but they only became popular as loungewear for men from about 1870.
Pyjamas were one half of a home wear look and were worn underneath another item which passed from the confines of the home to society, the smoking jacket. Popular with men (who in those times wore the trousers – both literally and physically), the pyjamas however remained a luxurious yet comfortable option for lounging until the beginning of the 20th century.
The liberation of the pyjama in fact can in many ways be associated with the “liberation” of women, with pioneers in both fashion, and feminism making brave pyjama based statements. The most eminent name in terms of both fashion and the women’s movement in the twenties and thirties was of course Coco Chanel, French designer, feminist, and one of the biggest influences in modern fashion. She herself was often snapped in pyjamas, accessorized with her signature pearls and effortless elegance.