Thursday, 22 March 2012

Art Deco Fashion

London is fascinating, where else in the world can you go for a free lunchtime lecture about the stunning style of the Art Deco era? Dr Clare Rose presented this interesting period with beautiful illustrations and photographs at the V&A.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Swing Time, 1935

At the moment, fashion seems wholly taken up with reminiscences of Art Deco, Gucci is the most notorious example this season but a reinterpretation of The Great Gatsby (a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald) in the cinema next Christmas (with Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio) means it won't go away anytime soon.

Carey Mulligan and Leonard DiCaprio. (Photo: Xclusive)

Dr Clare Rose identified four different themes in Art Deco Fashion - exoticism, movement, democratization and pleasure. It is said that people tend to make love after a funeral, it's not an attempt to defy death but a natural progression of the cycle of creation and destruction.

George Barbier: Master of Art Deco by Hiroshi Unno (Rizzoli)

We cannot forget Art Deco emerged after the First World War and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, when the world was facing the Great Depression, the most severe and widespread economic crisis of the 20th century, and World War II. 

Evening dress by Vionnet, 1938

So it's hardly surprising that pleasure is a defining theme of Art Deco Fashion, during hard times people seem to cling to life more vividly, dancing away and embracing a more active lifestyle, playing sports and enjoying the pleasure of the outdoors.

'Little black dress' by Chanel, 1927

Fashion followed all these radical transformations and couturiers designed clothes suitable for all these activities, Coco Chanel is one of the most well-known for liberating women, with carefree and easy to move pieces such as this dress, considered by American Vogue as the "ford" of fashion.

Evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet, flat and modelled, 1920
(Musee des Arts decoratifs, Paris)

Other designers were also outstanding, as Dr Clare Rose said "Vionnet totally rethought the way clothes were constructed and worked with fabric manufacturers to create new materials for couture, with lighter weight."

Film Fashionland magazine, London September, 1934

Movies played an important role in fashion, people would get information about the latest trends from films and there were different magazines emerging with images from movie stars during this period, offering advice on how to look like them. This doesn't seem to have changed that much...

Cloche hat, 1925 (V&A)

It was undoubtedly a great way to spend my lunchtime! Then I went to Hyde Park to welcome spring and have a moment of peace and quiet, away from all the job hunting worries and the painful disappointment of being rejected by Central Saint Martins, where I was hoping to do an MA on Womenswear Design...  

Hyde Park

Other related blogs:
Period Style: Art Deco
Coco Chanel, an Ongoing Inspiration
Balenciaga Evening