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Ripponlea and Barwon Park have hosted some stunning frocks in their time. This new exhibition by The National Trust, Night Life – A fashion exhibition of the 1920’s and 1930’s is no exception. A recent bequest of gowns inspired this curation exploring the decadent, ground breaking, jubilant styles of the 1920s and the more sober, practical conservatism of the 1930’s. The post war and interwar periods saw an enormous amount of change in social customs and economic conditions, and clothing is always an incredible barometer of the whole picture of society at a certain place and time.
Many early 1920’s evening dress features amazing, intricate beadwork with new and exotic materials such as celluloid and gelatine. Celluloid sequins offered the clothed experience a luminosity, sparkle and sound that reflected well the excitement, excess and prosperity of the time. Some dresses featured approximately 2 kg of embellishment carefully stitched to feather light silks and cotton tulle. With the thrashing of exuberant jazz dance moves such as the Charleston in hot sweaty smoky nightclubs it is no wonder that many dresses have not withstood the test of time. It is a joy and a pleasure to be able to see such well preserved precious examples as these.
As we moved into the 1930’s with the occurrence of The Great Depression and Wall street crash of 1929 as well as ominous political events in Europe, sequins, and beads were abandoned in favour of printed, painted and more restrained styles, more practical in design, less boyish, re-embracing the female form.
Designs also reflect the influence of world events such as the discoveries by Howard Carter in Egypt and the ensuing popularity of Egyptian inspired motifs. Keep an eye out for them. My favourites are the camels. Can you spot them?
If you are an avid student of fashion you will appreciate curator Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna’s informative presentation both in the exhibition and the catalogue. I personally enjoy the notes taken from media of the day and insights into the lives of the owners of these clothes.
It makes me smile to think of what Barbara Wilson Milne’s father thought of her dress and dancing antics.
I am always struck by the wearability of these periods despite their difference. There are always elements that seem very contemporary. I was struck by the the simple, graphic beauty of this black, white and blue printed silk lining a simple black evening coat and the familiarity of the cloud shaped beading on a simple black dress.
As I walk around the exhibition I can’t help but think of the many young women who would have spent hours stitching these intricate items with tiny tiny beads and sequins, and that is not even thinking about the tiny bits of tin so carefully wrapped onto mesh to create the Egyptian wrap! I have recently finished reading Fashion Victims and I can’t help but feel for their hunched shoulders, and strained eyes. I only hope that some of them had such slender hands and elongated fingers as those on the wearer of these gloves!
Art Deco influences are everywhere in beading and embroidery. This beaded shoulder detail struck me as quite unusual.
The richness of well lit black in velvet, lace, silhouette and some inspired lighting effects.
Shimmer and sparkle in celluloid, tin and gelatine. Just keep away from a naked flame as celluloid is highly flammable! It always make me smile when I think of all these women resplendent in celluloid and the connection with the importance and influence of the film era at this time. Women were watching and wearing the same material.
Floral motifs are ever popular but it interesting to observe the differences in the representation. Here you see them beaded in the 1920’s, painted and printed in the 30’s.
Embroidery and Asian influences in the 1920’s. These Chinese shawls were a popular choice to the warm exposed shoulders with flapper girls against chill.
A visual feast, informative and a lovely day out in the gardens of Ripponlea.
But did you find the camels? Here they are, plus some Egyptian figures! Thanks to Erica Louise of recycled-fashion for her sharp eyes in spotting them and most of all for taking me as her “plus one”. Thanks also to the National Trust for another most enjoyable event.
Fashion Revolution Week 2017 April 24th – 30th #whomademyclothes campaign in memory of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse on April 24th 2013. An estimated 1138 people died and many more were injured. Fashion Revolution asks for people to participate in many ways. One of which is by telling a love story to an item of clothing in your wardrobe. I told three. This is my love story….
For further information go to www.fashionrevolution.org and get involved in changing our fashion future..
Did you ever do these doodles in secondary school? I did. I’d fill a whole page with line upon line upon line. As soon as I saw these shoes, I thought oooooooooooo they need some line doodling!
So I did, and I am glad.
I love clothing that has personal meaning. I find it rewarding and long lasting. Slow fashion. The way of the future.
This lovely simple brooch was inherited from my late grand mother a few years ago. She was a woman of modest means but she loved to dress up when an occasion presented itself. Whilst this is a modest 1950’s piece I find it rather charming. When I received it was missing one diamanté with several more following in rapid succession. Hence it has been sitting in my mending box for many years. I recently have been working through my collection restoring and repairing pieces. The hardest thing about this job was sourcing the correct size Swarovski crystal is appropriate numbers. I am pleased with it, and am now looking for the right time to wear it. I do love vintage jewellery!
Here we are again! The next in line of my shoe renovation projects. If you didn’t read the last post, here is a brief recap… I recently set myself the challenge of renovating some modern, locally sourced shoes into looks that are reminiscent of the 1920’s. With costume projects getting the right shoes to match an outfit, in the right time frame and at the right price can be challenging. So of course, being me, instead of just creating one pair of shoes, I have been excited and wanted to try a few different looks. For this pair I chose some Milana label, all leather sandals. I found them at an opportunity shop so it is hard to be sure of their age, particularly as the brand is still current, vintage styles have been fashionable and I am not an expert in knowing what every brand is stocking at any given time! However the elastics on the buckles are a little bit perished so I suspect these are c1990’s. For this project I have not replaced these elastics but that could easily be done.
I confess with this project I have been very focussed on making and have neglected my photo taking. I am using these projects to experiment with different ways of doing things and in fact pulled them apart and remade them more than once to try different things to see what worked best. In addition I chose to use materials only readily available, being dressmakers supplies as the equivalent shoe makers materials are hard to come by and require specialist equipment to work with.
The fabric I chose was horrible to work with, I knew it would be before I bought it but I really liked the finish for the period look I was after. I would continue shopping a little longer next time!
I’m pretty happy with the result. I’d like to thank my ever patient, cooperative and attentive shoe model Ms Devon McKenzie for her excellent work. I did ask her to model more than once as I wanted to record the different results of different treatments. I have only included the images of my preferred finish.
I had intended to add extra embellishment to the vamps with some hand beaded mesh to emphasise the geometric Art Deco look. However I am planning another pair which will have lots of embellishment and I think this pair work well as is. Knowing when to stop can be a challenge….
Here is another link to the post of my last pair, embedded in this post is also a Pinterest Gallery of 1920’s looks for your enjoyment!
I hope you liked them!