World War II created many radical changes in the fashion industry. After the War, Paris wasn’t the global center of fashion like it used to be and mass-manufactured fashion became increasingly popular.
Fashion History from 1920 – 1930
During the 1920s clothing styles officially entered the modern era of fashion design. The traditional divide that had always existed between the high society and worker class was suddenly questioned in the West. A new young generation was born who fought against the existing differences. Women began to liberate themselves from constricting and uncomfortable gowns for the first time. They were open for casual and more comfortable styles like pants and shorter skirts, low waistlines, and revolutionary styles of the flapper era. Cloche hats without rims also became a key popular accessory.
As the European hierarchies were overturned and due to the decrease of the raw material, Europe was more than ready to adopt a quality ready-to-wear garment on American lines, something to occupy the middle ground between off-the-rack and high-dressmaking. New developing technologies made it easier to literally manufacture ‘mass-manufactured’ clothes and beat handmade, high-quality fashion for the very first time but of course could not stop fashion leaking out onto the streets. Unlike haute couture production, the mass-manufactured production cycles were much longer due to the larger quantities. Fashion designer had to try to assume more than a year in advance what their costumers would want and wear.
Watch the Roaring Twenties here:
Fashion History from 1930 – 1940
During this decade women’s fashions moved away from the brash, daring style of the 1920s towards a more feminine, romantic silhouette. The female body changed into a more neo-classical shape that why dresses were made to fit close to the body in order to emphasize youthful elegance. The waist was restored to its proper position, hemlines dropped and the slim-fitting day dresses became very popular. The term ‘ready-to-wear’ was still not widely used, but the fashion workers and boutiques already began to describe such clothes as ‘sportive’ and being used only for sport matters.
The fashion styles of the flapper era lasted throughout the 1920s and into the early 1930s before the hardships of the Great Depression forced more conservative trends back to a more traditionally feminine look: skirts became longer and the waistline became a more important part of the dress again. Due to the Depression which caused many women to do more work at home themselves, the fashion designer were forced to distinguish between day and evening styles. Women needed more casual and practical clothing for the daytime and could wear then easily simple skirts and casual outfits at home without any worries. Couture’s new fabrics like silk, metallic lamé, synthetic fabric rayon and cotton on the other hand, became an important part of many designers’ fashions during the 1930s.
The most prominent and influential fashion designers of the 1930s were Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet. Elsa Schiaparelli did not so much revolutionize fashion with her exciting and inventive designs. She was called ‘one of the rare innovators’ of the day by the press. Her first knitted black pullover with a trompe-l’oeil white bow created a sensation and was a start shot of following breathtaking collections thereafter till her business closed in 1954 because she did not adapt to the changes in fashion following World War II.
Madeleine Vionnet created more the timeless and beautiful gowns and was well known for the bias cut. “The architect among the dressmakers” was inspired by Greek art, garments which appeared to float freely around the female body rather than distort or mold its shape. Her clothes were famous for accentuating the natural female form and were made without excessive elaboration or dissimulation. Remain faithful to the elegant line she used a lot chiffon, silk and Moroccan crepe which created a sensual effect.
Men’s fashions continued the informal, practical trend that had dominated since the end of the First World War.
Fashion during The Great Depression:
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