ART DECO FASHION DESIGN
Following the demise of art nouveau as fashion inspiration, the appropriation of art deco design by Paris couturiers informed the next fashion look. This had two phases. The first ran from about 1910 to 1924 and was built around neoclassical/oriental/peasant styling. The second ran from 1924 to about 1930—a more minimalist style, with modernist design touches.
Paul Poiret led the first art deco fashion phase. His life was absorbed by orientalism, even as the Ballets Russes arrived in Paris, in 1909. He launched his slim, simple, high-waisted line in 1908, with its less-structured cut and delicately layered exotic style. Poiret was a collector of fauve paintings, which inspired his use of purples, pinks, blues, greens, and golds. Poiret’s passion for orientalism, chinoiserie, European peasant, and North African design introduced a fresh bold simplicity to the cut and decoration. His 1911 One Thousand and One Night Ball set off a lasting vogue for the exotic, with use of light silks, gold tassels, turbans, tunic dresses, and bold use embroidery. Poiret unwillingly shared his limelight with other couturiers such as Jeanne Lanvin, Lucile, and the Callot Soeurs, who all created versions of the slender, high waisted and often sumptuous exotic look.
Art deco design is far more deeply etched on the public mind as epitomizing a mythical ideal of free, youthful gaiety, glamour, and sexuality.
Art Deco Phase Two
From about 1924 Paris fashion crystalized into the hipless garçonne look, reflected in the new sportive couture client, with her flat chest, bobbed hair, and less socially restricted lifestyle. The new generation of key designers included Jean Patou and Chanel, who both borrowed elements from Sonia Delaunay’s far more extreme Orphic cubist designs. Madeleine Vionnet developed her skillful bias cut while Lelong produced the first ready-towear to come from a couture salon These short-skirted, simple, art-deco garments were nevertheless always made from the finest wool or the most sophisticated gilded, flowered Lyon silks and embellished with complex beading or tucking to identify their couture provenance. Patou ended the look when he lowered the hemline in 1929.
A group of young struggling fauve artists produced a generation of fashion illustration of lasting quality and celebrity. Under the original inspiration of Paul Poiret, and his pochoir printed Les Choses de Paul Poiret of 1909 and 1911 this period launched the careers of Barbier, Lepape, Iribe, Dufy, Erté, Marty, Benito, and Bonfils.
Couture and popular versions.
The short skirt and dropped waistline were copied at all levels of the fashion trade, this time right down to the cheapest ready-to-wear, as seen in Sears and Roebuck and English ready-to-wear wholesalers’ catalogs. Fashion knowledge and consumption opportunities were spread to a mass audience through the movies, through new cheap fashion journals, through home dressmaking, and through the wide availability of artificial silk or rayon (albeit still an unreliable fashion fabric). All of this accelerated the demand for mass, machine-made ready-to-wear and thus “up and coming” working-class girls on both sides of the Atlantic embraced moderated forms of art deco fashion even though their financial means were limited.
While historical styling is never repeated in the same way, both art nouveau and art deco styles have been subject to fashion revivals. As the maxi hemline became accepted from the late 1960s, in Britain new psychedelic styles were linked to a subversive nostalgia for the imperial Edwardian period, for art nouveau, and for the work of Aubrey Beardsley. This is evident in the original art nouveau brand logo selected by Barbara Hulanicki for her fashion company Biba, founded in 1964. This is also clear in the art nouveau romanticism of her fashionable evening silhouette and use of feather boas, though she fused this with early 1930s style in her use of slinky satins and the bias cut. John Galliano presented several Edwardian-styled fashions in 1996–1997.