Friday, 23 November 2012

Geometric to curves

Geometric lines of the early 1920s were soon replaced by curves and soft floral prints. A gradual increase in femininity became apparent.  

The Wall Street Crash

The decade ended with the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The Wall Street Crash was the crash of the stock market. This meant that there was depression in the air as the economy plunged into the Great Depression. Many people became unemployed because loads of business were going bankrupt so they could no longer afford to keep their employees or the business itself.

Even the couturiers couldn't keep up and many closed. 


Towards the end of the decade, a fashion for exposure was set. Tennis champ Suzanne Lenglen wore a sleeveless sweater on the tennis courts (designed by Patou). This set off another fashion. Women no longer covered their arms. A connection between fashion and sport was made. 

The fashion industry began to develop this exposed look, especially for evenings. Women wore long line sleeveless bodices and cut away 'plunge' backs. These looks were trimmed with drapes and bias cutting. 

Mass Market Production

With mass production, all of the latest styles became accessible to all. This meant the fashion had taken a step forward into a classless world because everyone was able to purchase the current fashions (along they had the money to purchase the clothes).

Tea Dresses VS Cocktail Dresses

During the 1920s people saw the demise of the tea gown. Young girls started to favour cocktails over tea. The cocktail dress began to appear in the Paris collections. These dresses were often beaded or embroidered. 

Also during this time, people saw a decline of the corset as people fashioned a 'boyish' figure. This fashion looked like an undeveloped adolescent rather than a curvaceous figure. 

In 1925 Gabrielle 'CoCo' Chanel showed straight hanging jersey dresses. They were square hung straight from the hips. They hung below the hips because it made an easy, soft shape. These dresses were sleek and elegant. 


Men wore a new style of grey flannel trousers called 'oxford bags'. This was introduced by under graduates of oxford university. These trousers were teamed with casual blazers to form a basic lounge suits. 


The 'oxford' bag look was rivaled by the 'gigolos'. Dark, young men with a south American background. With this look, men often had sleeked back hair. The jacket of the gigolo had immaculate tails and pressed trousers. 


After the war, there was a massive craze for dancing. It became a hobby for many people and it was a way to show their relief. Jazz bands held dances in many large hotels and halls. High society men returned from the war and went dancing while waiting for jobs. 

Exhibition of decorative Arts

The Exhibition of decorative Arts opened up in 1925 and it was held in Paris. 
New contemporary modernism was taking over, and there wasn't a curve in sight. Buildings were rectangular and interiors were simple. From this modernism, 'Art Deco' was born. 

Abstract and cubist art had replaced the exuberance of Art Nouveau. The emphasis was on line not decoration. 
The independence between architecture, fashion and art is clearly illustrated during this period. 

Bias Cut

During the 1920s, women's dresses were starting to be cut on the bias which made them drape and flow nicely. This was primarily introduced by Madeleine Vionnet. Also, this fashion was greatly introduced by the cubists.


Cubism was an avant-garde art movement. The art movement consisted of objects that were broken up, analysed and andre-assembled in an abstract form. 

This influenced fashion, garments sleeves were often long and full, bodices bloused loosely over lowered waistlines. 

Scarves were often slung across the shoulders and sometimes tassels and fringing hung from sleeves and hemlines.

Friday, 16 November 2012


Hollywoodland was famous and still is for film and cinema. Young women wanted to look like and be like the big movie stars.

Actress' like Theda Bara & Pola Negri started a fashion for eye make up and head scarfs.

This style of make up was called the 'Vamped Look'. The eyes became a focal point and it was intensely dramatic.

Men of the 1920s

During the 1920s men also started to wear more casual clothes. They drank cocktails and the wealthy (or those who could afford it) drove fast cars. Society became obsessed with leisure and sports clothing also turned into a big fashion statement.

The 'Flapper' Girl

'Flappers were a "new breed" of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.'

Attitudes & Behaviour

After the war ended, people altered their lifestyles and adapted their attitudes. This gave the 1920s a special character.

Manners became less formal, and people started to wear more casual clothing. In addition, younger people were free to live away from their parents.

Young girls started to smoke in public and they wore alot of make up. Along with these, they also started to cut off their hair and go to parties without a chaperone. In addition, their skirts were shortened. 

The end of WWI


In 1918, WWI ended. With it came a complete change in peoples social attitudes. The drama and catastrophe of the war years had bought tradegy and hardship to many people.

With WWI ending, society became to look forward.

Designers started to pick up on the contemporary modernism that society was looking for. Together, they modernised the entire internation commerical world.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

From 1916..

From 1916 increasing numbers of men joined the services and women were encouraged to enter the work force. These jobs were highly skilled in areas like transport, medical, agriculture and fire arms production. These jobs needed practical clothing. 

Women adopted mens styling, and wore Breeches, Dungarees, Boiler suits and low heeled lace up boots. 

Also, softer corsets and bust bodices were worn. However, they became more practical. They were no longer there to shape the body, only to support it. By 1916, the brassiere was developed from the bust bodice.

After the war Paris continued to dominate international fashion. The huge demand for wedding dresses following the ward gave the industry a much needed boost. Couture houses enjoyed booming trade.

In addition, in 1921 Chanel put her name on a scent bottle, making her the first ever designer to endorse her own perfume. 

Gabrielle Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel was a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. 

During the 1920s, she transformed the design of the fashionable wartime dress. She noted down the latest trends, then developed them for more practical, sporty clothing. 

Chanel's paired down sporty clothes were ideal for wartime chic. She created a two piece jersey outfit which was the ''virtue of simplicity''. 


Jersey had previously been used in menswear for sports and underwear but Chanel made this textile the height of fashion and women loved her clothes. However, manufacturers were quick to copy her styles. 

The Silhouettes of the 20s

The silhouettes of the 1920s remained column like and there was an addition of peplums. Also there was layered skirts and drapes.

In 1915, a number of designers introduced military references to their collections. The colour Khaki 
was in Vogue. Sensibly tailored jackets and suits became fashionable. Military styling continued to filter through into women's wardrobes. Skirts shifted away from the Hobble Skirt and became softer and flared or tiered. By 1916, hemlines were creeping up.

Practically became increasingly important.

During the war , there was a shortage of domestic labour. Clothing that needed elaborate cleaning and pressing was soon modified. People no longer embraced evening wear and daywear became the most important. As the war years went on, the tea dress declined.


During WWI, there were significant changes in fashion design, fabrics and manufacturing. When Germany declared war on France in August 1914, preparations for Paris Fashion Week were well under way- the event still went on as planned. 

The effects of the war started to effect high society and people no longer made financial outlay for luxury couture. Many of the male couturiers signed to for service leaving the women in charge. 

America didn't enter the war until 1917. As a result of this the American fashion industry supported the French fashion houses. Despite wartime setbacks, the Paris fashion houses remained unchallenged by American talent. Biannual shows continued to be staged. 

News of Paris' latest styles still echoed all over the world, causing great interest. In 1916, Conde Nast launched a British edition of Vogue to boost morale. 



Men were obliged to keep an extensive wardrobe and they were expected to dress appropriately. As time went on clothing became less formal and the lounge suit became prominent. 

British tailoring was considered to be the best in the world and only the wealthy shopped on Bond Street and Saville Row, which was notorious for great tailoring. 


During this period (1912-1920), there was a decline of the top hat. After 1914,  the top hat was reserved for formal occasions. For example: funerals. 

Smoking Jackets

A smoking jacket was the masculine equivalent of the tea gown. Soft fabrics like velvet were used. This was used to help the wearer relax. They were often embellished or frogged. 

The New Silhouette

Paul Poiret 

Paul Poiret energetically led a movement from the full, curvy silhouette of the 1900s, towards a long lean empire silhouette. 

Some say ''he was responsible for releasing women from the tyranny of corsets''.

The movement was pioneered by a team of health professionals, Liberty, Poiret & Diaglev. They evolved the softer shape of the tea dress into evening wear. 

Poiret became the most exciting couturier in years since WWI.

Between 1900- 1914 many women adapted Poirets ''Hobble Skirt''. This look was complimented with wide brimmed hats. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Pre Raphaelite

The Pre Raphaelite style started in the Mid 1800s. It started by a group of radical painters who mixed Romance, Poetry and Art. 

William Morris was a wallpaper and furniture person artist. Also he was was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and libertarian socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. 

Liberty London

Liberty London is a shop in London that opened during 1875 selling ornaments, fabrics and objects from Japan and the Far East.
In 1884 Liberty introduced the costume department. 

Liberty also created in-house clothing inspired by the orient, Art Nouveau and the Pre Raphealite Artists. This challenged the couture fashions of Paris. 

Not before long, the store became the most fashionable place to shop in London! 


Suffragettes were a group of women for fought for womens rights. There were two types Militant and Non-Militant. Those who were Militant, were pretty extreme. They chained themselves to railings and attacked MPs. 

Their Suffragette colours  were Purple (dignity),White (purity) and Green (hope). Suffragettes wore dark clothing to show that they were very serious about getting votes for women. But they wore intricate brooches and jewellery to show that they were supporting. They switched their clothing to a more practical style; Three-quarter length straight coats, worn single breasted with a small collar were popular and worn above a fitted blouse with small upright collar and blouson sleeves with tight cuffs with an A-line skirt reaching to the mid-calf.

Here is a video to explain the suffragette movement: