Art Deco

The Art Deco movement emerged in the early 1920’s and lasted until the outbreak of war in 1939. The term Art Deco was coined in 1926 after the Les Annees exhibition in Paris, commemorating the 1925 Paris ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes.’ The Fashion era is referred to as the ‘breath of fresh air’ between the two great wars. It was a time of liberation for women with many being given the vote and going into employment. This liberation was strongly reflected in the style of clothes and how women presented themselves as individuals.


Copyright © AFP / Branger / Roger-Viollet      Copyright © AFP / Collection Roger-Viollet

The post war era saw the birth of French Vogue and Coco Chanel herself ruling the fashion world and releasing the iconic bottle of Chanel No 5. Designs of Jewellery and sports were turned on their head by Coco Chanel, she believed jewellery should be used to decorate oneself instead of flaunt wealth and sports costumes and design became a focus for the new modernity with tennis champion Suzanne Lenglen becoming a style icon. Designers such as Paul Poiret and René Lalique are celebrated as two of the greatest contributors to the Art Deco period in fashion, jewellery and glass design.

The most iconic image of the age however, is the Flapper: a good time girl. The dressing of Flapper released women into partying and the glamorous side to life. After the Great War and the Victorian Age, the grey uniform was abolished along with the strict laws, introducing femininity with shorter skirts, and a boyish style of bobbed hair, flat breasts and straight dresses. The enhanced female figure, along with the corset was making its way out of society and women enjoyed even more freedom, with the right to vote and work. Along with the new hair style came the iconic cloche hat and Jacques Doucet created a new elegance of femininity with evening gowns made with revealing splits. Artists such as Tamara de Lempicka are still celebrated and studied across the world for their modernist take on the Art Deco form.



Even though the Art Deco period’s finest time was ended abruptly by the Second World War the style is still iconic today and has been experimented with designers such as Gucci creating a Spring-Summer 2012 Art Deco jacket trend with elements of green and gold and bold geometric lines. For women especially the Art Deco Period was the beginning of a new time and the historical acts of this time are still in effect in modern day and should be celebrated further still.

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Written by Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones, studying Literature at Portsmouth University, with a passion for all things art and fashion, writer/reader/ editor/ artist/ dedicated shopper. Felicity looks after the Catwalk Yourself Art Dictionary.

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