With The Great Gatsby opening the Cannes Film Festival , it was clear that the roaring ’20s fashion was back! The social changes and restrictions of that era gave birth to a new type of woman, the flapper, and the fashions she wore.
The world changed rapidly after World War 1. Technology and mass production were rocketed into the 20th century. Society was speeding up, airplanes were taking people across the country in a matter of hours rather than a matter of weeks, automobiles could travel between several states in an evening. Additionally, after the war, the “Flaming Youth” as they became known, felt they needed to live their lives now, because the future wasn’t guaranteed. In that new world, expression and individuality were the most important elements of living a fulfilling and complete human life.
On the heels of the suffrage movement, 1920’s flappers took their right for personal liberty and freedom. Choice was not a privilege, but a god-given right. Flappers were free to choose a career, their mate[s], their vote, their clothes….their destiny.
The flapper rejected the repressed stodgy Victorian world and made the world modern and exciting. Old-fashioned torture devices like the corset and the crinoline no longer served a purpose for young women who wanted to dance, go to work, hop into cars, and walk around town. women refused to be made physically and socially helpless by the clothes they wore. Hemlines on 1920s dresses were rising quickly, one year mid-calf, the next year just below the knee…
With the rise of the mass media, the silver screen, books, sports and Broadway shows grew more popular. Beautiful stars like Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, and Gloria Swanson became the legends of Hollywood. They were known for their style, and modern fashion, as much for their intelligence and vibrancy. Those stars were women’s new role models: the strong independent woman who is capable of taking care of herself, asserting her sexuality, and making a living at the same time.
Coco Chanel led the charge into modernity with her stripped down dresses, the “let go” waistline, and rising hemlines. Designers like Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Alberta Feretti and Dori have since re-incarnated the flapper style. Their designs are laced with shiny metallics, and fun, glitzy details like tassels, beading and fringing that are a distinct nod to the roaring 20″s style.