So, this week I decided to explore one of the most amazing and extravagant decades ever – the 1920’s!
This was the time of enormous change in the society – after the World War I, people were more optimistic, the economy boomed and society consumed goods like never before.
Technological advances lead to an explosion of creativity – writers and artists experimented new themes and styles – fashion was no exception.
At the same time, the 1920’s opened up the doors to new opportunities for women as they entered the workforce and earned the right to vote. Trends became more accessible and practical as well as new social customs/morales were now accepted.
WOMEN’S FASHION – FLAPPER GIRL
The glamour of early silent screen cinema drew upon a heavy exoticism. Invited to Hollywood in 1920 to try her hand at script writing, the 56 year old Elinor Glyn was in her element. Vamps, mysterious Slavs, doomed queens and gypsies were her stock in trade.
The feminine aesthetic of theses years combined a touch of the harem with the Cleopatra look: women were kitted out in unlikely slave-girl costumes, wreathed in beads, with serpent-of-the-Nile arm and ankle bracelets and kohl-rimmed eyes.
This vampish Arab princess look, associated with Theda Bara, Nita Naldi and Pola Negri, gave way in turn to the image of the flapper – the fun loving, pleasure seeking modern girl. (1)
This meant not only a new and exciting way of dressing but also a new attitude and lifestyle. These were young women who enjoyed themselves by breaking the old conventional rules of behavior, dancing the night away in the golden era of jazz who also expressed themselves through fashion.
They abandoned the prudish Victorian styles of the past and refused to wear corsets. Underwear was lighter in fabrics and minimal in details – I will also dedicate a post about lingerie to talk about these changes.
Probably a more enduring stereotype than that of the ‘bright young things’ of the 1920’s, the ‘modern girl’ was associated with much more than just hectic partying, jazz and the dance crazes of the decade. Representations of both stereotypes owed something to literature of Scott Fitzgerald and Evelyn Waugh, and also to the impact of screen performances by Clara Bow in ‘The Plastic Age’ (1925), and ‘It’ (1927), by Louise Brooks (Pandora’s Box and The Canary Murder Case, both 1929 and Joan Crawford, especially in ‘Our dancing daughters’ (1928). (1)
(1) Glamour : Women, History, Feminism (2010) by Carol Dyhouse
For my next post I will be going through the “Flapper” garments in detail – from shapes and fabrics to make up and accessories! Don’t miss out! 🙂 x
Have a great day!