1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum


1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

Back in Year 6 I got to play Blousey Brown in our school production of Bugsy Malone. I don't think I was very good but MAN did I love my drop waist dress! I got it from MK One (tell me, was it Mark One or M - K One?) That little play sparked a passion in me for the 1920s and it has stayed with me ever since. The decadence! The parties! The literature! And most of all...the fashion. From the gangster molls in Boardwark Empire to the upper class ladies in Downton Abbey, I'm obsessed with any films or TV series set in the era. Sandwiched between two of the most horrific events of the 20th century, it's an interesting time period. People had lost their innocence after WWI and this new attitude emerged where women were gaining more rights and this was reflected in the fashion. The twenties are remembered for the glittering flapper dresses but it was definitely a moment for accessories too. Handbags were a must for the modern woman carrying her things around as she went around town with her newfound freedom and as hemlines got higher this meant shoes were on display more and therefore needed to be prettier - and you know how I love me a pretty shoe! (Unfortunately my flippin' camera died before I could get any pics of them which was my own flippin' fault!)  So I headed down to the Fashion and Textile Museum to check out the 1920s JAZZ AGE exhibition before it moved on. Read after the jump for more!


1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

The 1920s brought about the emergence of pyjamas as clothes - I don't know about you but that's definitely something I like to get on board with! Although I must say these pyjamas are a lot more elegant than my trackie bottoms/GoT tees combos. We also saw less restrictive underwear, which allowed for movement (definitely the buzzword for fashion in the twenties!)

1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

These day dresses were some of my favourites in the exhibition. They're very feminine but still allowed for movement and although seemingly girlish and suggestive of innocence (note the floral and scalloped details, plus the pastel colours) there's something a little more risque about them due to the sheerer fabrics. There's almost something perverse about these sweet designs, something that I think is very British! Think Christopher Kane or Simone Rocha for example. Very contemporary!

1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

The 1920s were arguably Coco Chanel's heyday - she brought us the 'Garçonne' look, using fabrics that were traditionally used for men's clothes and androgynous styles that fit in more with the modern woman's lifestyle. She knew what women wanted to wear and almost 100 years later she's still inspiring us today as we all love a masculine/feminine mix.  

1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

Keeping in line with women being allowed more movement, both physically and socially, there were more sportswomen in the 1920s who became superstars not only in sport but also the fashion world. They wore pleated skirts (something that we still see in sport today) and one of the greatest things ever to happen to women's fashion - DRESSES WITH POCKETS.

1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

Decadent dresses represented the economic prosperity of the time and was also a backlash to the rationing of WWI. A true decade of decadence, people wanted to move on from the horrors of the war and just party! We saw lots of embroidered detail and fur, partly due to the influence from Russian aristocrats who were fleeing the Revolution back home (Chanel's collections in the early 1920s were very Russian inspired!) Sequins became popular after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb as they were found on the boy King and they eventually were made out of celluloid, the same as camera film. I absolutely love that, fashion and film were already very connected in the twenties but they were literally made from the same cloth. They looked stunning on screen and were made to move and dance in! Proper party dresses. This gold dress here was my favourite in the entire collection, I think it's stunning! The cut was beautiful and I love it with the blue, such a gorgeous colour combo. 

1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum
1920s JAZZ AGE at the Fashion and Textile Museum

Finally we have a wedding dress - the gold colour is representative of the feeling of the 1920s and the medieval style reflects the taste for Gothic architecture at the time (our Queen's mama wore a similar gown at her wedding!) Unfortunately my camera died before I could take photos of some of the flapper dresses but I can tell you that they were very expensive looking and just exquisite. They also had an interesting display of James Abbe photographs, everyone just looked so glamorous and confident. I think his photos really embody the spirit of the era. As we know it all came crashing down by the end of the decade with the arrival of the Great Depression with WWII following not long after and fashion became more reserved to match the new mood. It would be a while until we saw similar extravagance again but really I don't think anything will ever match the glamour of the 1920s. 

I do love the party dresses but I also really appreciate the everyday outfits of women in the 1920s because I think it's such a cool style. I mean I know Peaky Blinders takes a bit of artistic license with the costumes (they gotta fit in with the whole indie band aesthetic the show has got going on!) but how cool does Polly look stomping around in her boots and big coats? I thought Tina Goldstein in Fantastic Beasts looked amazing too. I'd love to research more about the beauty looks of the time, I love the smoky eyes! I could ramble on a lot more about the things I saw and learnt but I won't be too much of a geek haha, I hope you enjoy the photos though! I really had the best day, the Fashion and Textile Museum is small but was jam packed with items plus it wasn't as busy as some of the more famous museums. Plus it's in Bermondsey where I grew up so it was really nice to go back (South London gets a bad rep but there are good things to do and see so 😝 to all the snobby North Londoners haha!) This particular exhibition isn't on any more unfortunately (I believe it's moved on to the American Museum in Bath) but there'll be a new one opening next week about the designer Josef Frank which I'll definitely be going along to! I think what's great about this museum is that they don't have a permanent collection so there is always something new to discover. Oh, and the bookshop is pretty good too...



Are you interested in the 1920s? What's your favourite era in history? Have you been to the Fashion and Textile Museum?



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