If you haven’t been yet and you love 1930s fashion – you need to go. The current exhibition at The Fashion & Textile Museum (83 Bermondsey Street, London) is simply astonishing. I was in fashion heaven.
The 1930s is my all time favourite decade for fashion and design. It has been since i was a child and led me to the ultimate conclusion that i was probably born in the wrong era and wrong class! There is something dreamy about the decade – this was of course the time when Hollywood movies were at their height and portrayed a world designed to distract from the depression. Would we all love to dress for breakfast, change for afternoon tea and then don a fabulous evening gown for dinner with the local elite 😉 Of course this wasn’t reality but Im sure we all have been more than happy to take part in the imagination at times! Fashion, as always, reflected this dream state. The era of the Bias cut, sumptuous fabrics, chic design – long and elegant dresses cut in increasingly intricate ways.
I love this museum and went to see the 1920s fashion exhibition a year previous. My expectations were high but i wasn’t disappointed. We were presented with an amazing array of exquisite 1930s evening gowns arranged by colour – starting with black and white, into reds and jewel colours then to the pales and finally settling on a delicious collection of metallic fabric evening wear too…. I really enjoyed how the garments were displayed and it really made you feel emmersed in a world of cocktail parties and upmarket soirees! My favourite dress of all time is pictured on the left below – a divine chartreuse green floor length gown with bias cut panels (see the faint stripe through the fabric…) swoon!
Daywear was similarly arranged into colour and featured some amazing art deco prints and accessories. Of course there were beach pyjamas and sportswear sets which were just becoming popular and accepted in the 1930s. Tea dresses in stunning prints and in various colours. Afternoon dresses in delicate pastel prints with the iconic accented shoulders. Suits and practical daywear – similarly elegant and beautifully designed.
Then there were the accessories….Belts and buckles (i will be sharing some exciting news on buckles soon), hats, jewellery.
The exhibition culminated in a collection of 30 Cecil Beaton photographs. He, along with John French and Lee Miller, is one of my all time favourite photographers. What a treat!
Unfortunately i only had an hour or two but we could have stayed there all day. Don’t even get me started on the shop!!!
The exhibition is on until January 20th 2019 – details here: https://www.ftmlondon.org
An essential visit for any 1930s fashion fan.
foxylady November 8th, 2018
The 1930s has always been a passion – since i was in my early teens… art deco furniture, art deco architecture, innovative bias cut dresses, ground breaking films – it’s a dream world! (I was born in the wrong era…)
Nowadays, the 1930s is often described as a ‘design decade’ or the most stylish of the century. Attention was turned towards simple and functional design and was influenced by the ‘modernism’ movement. A recent visit to the Museum of Textile and Fashion in London, which currently has an exhibition on 1930s fashion (blog post to follow), had many wonderful displays. One was a film from the era about interior design. Apart from being exquisitely stylish – the majority of the narration concentrated on simplicity and everything having its place. No clutter. Organised. Beautiful in its simple lines and functionality. This was true of many fields of design in this decade but this look was also reflected in the way fashion and print evolved during the decade.
You can’t call 1930s fashion unfussy or purely functional – there were plenty of frills and flounces. However you can see how the style lines of the garments follow this idealogy and particularly in prints. The shapes used, the style of florals and the ways that the pattern repeats – all work well with the cut of the dresses. Geometric patterns were unfussy and pretty simple in many cases.
I have several books on 1930s and art deco prints and some original hand painted prints (see image below). A few items from my vintage garment collection i chose specifically for their prints and a few wounded birds that cannot be worn anymore but preserved for the print.
Now that we have been able to get our own prints made – which completely opened up design opportunities for me – I am enjoying designing and adapting prints that we own. Below is one of my absolute favourites – the poppy spray print.
The poppy print is approx 7cm wide and is repeated both ways with a nice distance between each spray. This makes the print work really well on bias and medium sized panels. It’s not too busy so the style lines are easy to see (which is important for 1930s dresses).
The poppy flower shapes are quite art deco and stylised in feel, having angled lines. The green stalks of the flowers are also quite stylised. Together with the colour choice of coral red, bright yellow, blush pink and ivory on the black – this, in my opinion, is a typical 1930s print. I just love it. I love how it works so well for autumn and goes with red, black and even gold.
We’ve had this design printed on two fabrics which we sourced so that they are as close as possible to fabrics used at the time. Rayon marocain and semi sheer rayon georgette (we are trying to ensure fabrics are sourced from sustainable suppliers – details to follow). We are making quite a few styles in these – the Ava, new Joanie bias cut dress, new Lana Peplum dress and several blouses. Some pics below.
For our full range in poppy spray – pls click here
To read more about 1930s fashion – pls click here
foxylady October 24th, 2018
Last year I bought some 1930s shorts from a vintage trader. I struggled to fit them but i bought them anyway because they are a work of art. White linen, pleated, top stitched, mother of pearl buttons on both sides and even had a name tag. I love them so much – and I will admit that at this moment, their main role is wall adornment….
However, thereafter i have been on a mission to make these shorts and I do believe it was a fated exercise. As in September 2016, i bought a shorts pattern from a vintage trader who i met at a very random vintage car event in a small west yorkshire town. (Yes – very random) So over winter, we started work.
The pleated short was an iconic item from the new sport casual styles growing in popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s when ladies began to partake in exercise and sporting pursuits. Im sure i remember our gym shorts at school looking a bit like these – before they were replaced by the unattractive and tight fitting cycling shorts 🙁 Or am i thinking of the skort?
The issue with vintage styles is that in order to provide these gorgeous shorts for your lovely ladies and enabling them to be affordable – we have to compromise on some detailing. The problem being that time is more expensive than it was in the 1940s – moreover, this was a time when many ladies made their own garments and would have a vested interest to add the detailing.
We think we cracked it though…and are still able to make these shorts here in Blighty!
These shorts are pleated AND topstitched – we couldn’t compromise on that. They do, however, have a zip and that has modernised them a little. The fabric is our signature poly/visc mix fabric – which means it is washable and hardy with a little stretch.
In any case, these shorts are fitted on the waist which make them flattering or many figures and are full due to the pleats.
I really think they are a fabulous addition to the foxy catalogue.
I hope you take as much joy in wearing them as I did in making them 🙂
xx Clare @ Foxy
foxylady August 9th, 2017