At the Fashion and Textile Museum in London there is a special exhibition about the 1920s fashion. I wanted to visit the museum. The concept of the museum is quite different as there isn’t a permanent exhibition, but only temporary ones. From 23 September until 15 January next year is the 1920s JAZZ AGE Fashion & Photographs. It was very interesting to see the exhibition. I’ve read Coco Chanel’s biography a few months ago and I was excited to see the dresses on display.
Men from different backgrounds were made friends during the WWI and that changed the social status completely. More women worked for the first time. In Europe there were 38 million casualties in WWI, every family was affected by this. The end of WWI in 1918 marked the beginning of a new era. US, UK and France had a period of economic prosperity. The way women dressed changed as a result of their involvement in everyday life and tasks, while the men were at war. That asked for a freedom of movement that lead to a freedom in clothing. In US more people were living in the cities than in the countryside for the first time. Women were starting to get involved in sports and that had an impact on fashion too.
Something that I didn’t know before seeing the exhibition was how much the dresses changed during those years. The waistline was changing, the dress length was dropping from calf to ankles to go back up just below the knee in 1925.
Small changes happened even before the WWI. For example, by 1915 showing the ankle wasn’t considered scandalous like 50 years before that. The exaggerated corset from the 19th century were replaced with a more natural shape. Surprisingly, in the 1920s, some women would still use corsets, but not to emphasize their waist like before, but to make them look more boyish without curves.
The suntan was made fashionable by Coco Chanel. She was very sporty and she hated curves and anything that wasn’t slender. She had a strict diet and she did a lot of outdoor activities like swimming, tennis and golf. Sportswear was created by couture houses like Jean Patou, Jane Regny and Jenny.
Beside sports, in the 1920s travel was more frequent due to the rise of the automobiles. Trains and ocean liners were popular at that time too. Of course, outfits were needed for these new experiences.
Women could access easily fashionable designs. Manufacturing of ready-made clothes boomed. Department stores and mail-order catalogues were very popular too. France and Paris were the pinnacle of fashion. For those who couldn’t afford to buy haute couture the only option was to make their own. As sewing skills were considered necessary, most women were able to make their own clothes. Craft magazines have patterns, as they do today and making clothes couldn’t be easier.
The entry fee is £9 and I would say it’s a little expensive as the museum is not that big. Although, considering there are only special exhibitions, you can see before going to the museum if it’s something you would find interesting or not. There is a discount for members of National Art Pass. In my post I’ve posted only a few pictures, but there are many more things to see. I would recommend the museum for anybody who loves fashion.
Have you been to Fashion and Textile Museum or would you like to?