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In Focus: Great Depression Fashion
The Dirty 30's Weren't So Dirty After All
Women's fashion in the '30s became a little more form-fitting and longer in length than it had been during the comparatively outrageous Roaring Twenties. In order to make clothes that hugged the body, designers had to use very lightweight fabrics such, as crêpes and lighter satins—both very elegant fabrics. Here are some examples of what designers did way back when:
For our first dress, I am bringing you the famous Jeanne Lanvin. This dress is made of off white-wool crêpe decorated throughout with silver sequins; the design is mostly abstract geometric shapes, but there are a few stylized fish. Also note the low neckline, straight-topped bodice, and 1" thick straps, as well as the natural waistline accentuated by a thin, sequin-covered belt. The skirt falls straight to the floor. Chicago History Museum
Next up we have a House of Worth evening gown, c.1932. It's sleeveless and a pale sea-foam green with a V-neck, decorated with large seashells of various types all over the fabric. The straps are decorated with sequins and rhinestones. Attached to the dress is a sea-foam crêpe de chine slip with slide closure. More on the House of Worth
Next, take a look at a dress from Coco Chanel. This dress is made of dark purple blue silk net and crochet, and is completely covered with tiny iridescent paillettes, which are sewn onto the yarn strands. The V-shaped neckline with fold-over collar trails down the back of the dress and can be tied like a scarf. The dress also has a proper left-side zipper and flared, ankle-length skirt. More on House of Chanel
Last but not least, we have another stunner. This little beauty is from Mainbocher, c. 1938. It is floor-length and an evening style, pink and gold jacquard weave with silk brocading. It has a high neckline with attached trompe l'oeil (illusion of depth) necklace of sequins, glass beads, and orange pink beading. The cap sleeves have similar trim at edge, and the bodice attaches to the straight skirt at the natural waist.
It is becoming obvious to me as I find these gowns that I will have to revisit this time period again and again—I just can't do it justice in only 4 photos!
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