Trends and Cultural Influences 1900-1929
Women's changing roles
More active lifestyle
Women's suffrage movement-
W.W.I caused a decrease in activism, but at the same time dramatized the
place of women in American society. The 19th Amendment passed June
Women entering the workforce
- during W.W.I meant less need for new clothes; restrictions on use of
wool. Skirts became shorter and fuller to enable easier movement
for working women. Some women even wore trousers for war work; women
working in public still wore skirts. Visible changes in acceptable dress
for women paralleled changes in women's social roles.
World War I
influence seen in cut of jackets and coats
dark colored dyes were in short supply
coats & sweaters
- an art movement characterized by the use of light and naturalistic scenes
An example of the art nouveau style in apparel is this evening gown by
Charles Worth from about 1898. It is from the Metropolitian Museum
of Art's Costume Institute.
deco - characterized by geometric forms derived from artistic impressions
of past or present. Egyptian and Mayan motifs were used.
- the dominant artistic movement of the interwar years, surrealists juxtaposed
words or images according to psychological (not logical) criteria, aiming
to destroy the boundaries between dream and reality.
in both spectator and active sports increases
sports apparel, established sportswear as a separate clothing category.
of rich; 1908 first
costume needed to protect clothing from the dust of the dirt roads because
cars did not have windshields. A duster (long overcoat) was
worn with a visor and goggles. Women wore face veils.
became more practical transportation, special apparel was not needed.
a manufactured fiber, becomes more popular in the 1920s for women's clothing.
This causes a decline in cotton's use.
Known as the Father of Couture, Worth worked in a fabric shop when he first
came to Paris selling fabrics for mantles and cloaks. He began designing
dresses for his wife to wear as she modeled the cloaks. Soon customers
were requesting similar dresses be made for them. His employer was
unwilling to go into the dressmaking business, so eventually Worth left
and started his own business. The year was 1858. He quickly
was able to gain the patronage of a very influential woman in the court
of Emperor Louis Napoleon III. The Empress Eugenie admired a gown
Worth had made, and the rest is history.
Worth designed his garments so that each part would fit interchangeably
with another. For example, a sleeve could fit into many different
bodices, and a bodice could fit into many skirts.
retired in the 1880s, but his sons continued the business. The House
of Worth declined in importance during the 1920s and 30s, and finally closed
after W.W.II. Many examples of Worth's work can be found at the Museum
of the City of New York website.
Poiret began his career in the House of Worth, working for Charles Worth’s
sons. However, they did not have similar design philosophies, so
he left in 1906 to open his own design house. From 1903 to W.W.I
were the years of his greatest design influence. His designs during
this time helped to revolutionize the physical appearance of fashionable
women. He is known for his use of vivid colors and for his oriental
influenced styles. In 1912 he introduced
the tunic and hobble skirt. In 1913 he introduced harem trousers.
He was the first couturier to introduce his own line of perfume, called
“Rosina” after one of his daughters. He was also know for innovative
marketing strategies; he was the first designer to have a fashion show
outside of his couture house, and to travel with his models to other countries
to show his designs.
designs typify the style of the 1920s. She began designing simple,
classic wool jersey styles which fit the lifestyle of the time period.
Her designs were exquisitely simple, but with outstanding construction.
She is famous for her little black dresses, simple little suits, cardigan
jackets, cloche hats, costume jewelry, and suntans. She preferred
neutral color schemes using black, navy and tan. She was a leading
designer through the 1930’s, but closed her house during W.W.II.
She reopened in 1954 and continued to design until her death in 1971.
Vionnet became a part of haute couture in the early 1920s
and became one of the most popular designers of the 1930s. She
concentrated on simple elegant styles. Vionnet is most well-known
as the originator of the bias cut. Use of the bias direction of the
fabric allowed greater stretch and drape of the fabric and allowed Vionnet
to accentuate body curves in her long flowing designs.
Fortuny was a Spanish born artist who came to design both textiles and
apparel. He was active as a designer from 1906 to 1941. His most noted
design is the
Delphos gown which was introduced in 1907. It
was made from crinkle pleated silk and was inspired by ancient Greek styles.
His pleated silk garments were stored twisted in small boxes, and had to
be returned to his couture house in Venice to be cleaned. The pleats
could not withstand washing or dry-cleaning. The method used to pleat
the Greek inspired gowns is unknown.
Mariano Fortuny y
Fortuny was also inspired by renaissance and oriental (middle eastern)
motifs and these can be found in his textile designs. He dyed his
own fabrics. His work still inspires designers such as Mary McFadden.
P. and Eubanks, K. (1994). Survey of Historic Costume, 2nd ed.
New York: Fairchild.
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August 5, 1999
Copyright Belinda T. Orzada, University of Delaware, 1998. All rights reserved.