We are pleased to announce that Fashion Sourcebook 1920s has now been released in stores!
The first in a series of books documenting fashion, decade by decade, this title is chock-a-block with illustrations and photographs of 1920s women sporting typical fashions of the day.
When one usually thinks of 1920s fashion, flappers in drop-waisted beaded dresses, T-bar shoes and bobbed hair spring to mind. This is not entirely inaccurate, as can be seen in many of the images in this book. But the beauty of this collection is that it not only looks at this stereotypical 1920s style, but also at what everyday women would have worn.
The majority of the images in the book were sourced from antique clothing catalogues and magazines, many of them offering alternatives to outrageously priced designer gear, or patterns for you to run up your own garments - although viewing them now, almost a hundred years on, we must remember that the majority of images are representative of what a bright young thing would have worn. It would appear that in terms of the idolisation of youth, beauty and slenderness, fashion magazines were much the same in the 1920s as they are in 2012. To quote from Emmanuelle Dirix's insightful introduction to the book, "A mature woman in the 1920s was as unlikely to dress in a short beaded dress, as a mature woman would indulge in the latest hot-pants craze [now]."
As true then as it is now, though, is that styles trickled down from the couture 'maisons' in Paris and found their way into women's wardrobes, albeit in a more diluted form. Coco Chanel's use of jersey fabrics for daywear is just one example of the phenomenal influence of high fashion houses on the average woman's wardrobe. Chanel's pauvre chic garments were, as Dirix points out, for the "far from pauvre" - despite the relaxed, leisurewear-influenced look of the clothes, they were still made from the finest fabrics and had a high price. Nevertheless, this influence of casual sportswear made a huge contribution to breaking down the formality and restrictiveness of pre-1920s womenswear.
Along with the idea that all young Twenties women were flappers, another commonly bandied about 'fact' is that black became fashionable in the 1920s (with the Chanel 'Little Black Dress' blazing the trail), previously having been reserved for widow's weeds. Dirix tells us that 'It was still the mourning colour but not exclusively. And as the images in this book demonstrate, the widespread enthusiasm for simple black dresses in both upper and middle-market publications dispels the myth that only after Chanel launched her LBD was it possible for women of all classes to copy it and turn it into a universal uniform.'
The adoption of more casual clothing for the day, the abandonment of restrictive corsetry (although some support was still required for the boyish figure that was so desirable), the shortening of hemlines, and all the other visible changes to women's fashion in this period are contextualised with an analysis of current events which, as well as changing lives, changed fashion.
These women and girls were living in the shadow of the just-ended First World War, a war during and after which women were 'catapulted from the kitchen sink to employment outside the home, and so were now often the principal breadwinners.' As Dirix says, 'Needless to say, in the post-war period women were not prticularly inclined to meekly return to their previous domestic duties of baking and childrearing once their men came home.' Additionally, as millions of women experienced, their men would never come home. The 1920s could be said to be the most revolutionary decade in the 20th century in terms of women's lives and the clothes they wore - which we learn from this book are signifiers of the greater events and changes that were taking place at the time.
This unique collection of images and groundbreaking introduction by a renowned fashion historian make this a truly special new title. Click the image below to get your copy now!