Do you really say <<WOW>> at the sight of these sassy boho girls that are invading your Instagram feeds with their grey, purple or tale dyed hair? Well, maybe yes but it ain’t because of their hair colour or of their “aesthetic rebellion”, but just because they’re pretty and good at posing (enjoy this detailed field study on hipsters if you like). In terms of style there’s nothing new under the sun: an elegant and refined melting pot of the best of the 60’s/’70’s/’80’s and 90’s – which were real ages of transgression in fashion, lifestyle and perception of the female body.
Anyway, to be honest, the age mother of the female fashion scandals traces its roots deeper and longer than you believe, breaking history in the Roaring Twenties.
Oh, for the ones of you that might be thinking that if something is “ancient” it must be “old”, unfashionable and calm: these old girls would have kicked your ass and beat you half to death by only thinking it.
The first decade of the Twentieth Century – with the so called Edwardian age (yup, the one right after the Victorian) – a light wind of innovation in the field of fashion and female habits started to blow: this was the time of the so called Gibson girls. This American kinda “Barbie” trend – all it was about <<I must look like the girls drawn by Sir Charles Gibson>> (yes it was “fault” of an artist) – pictured the women as sensual, voluptuous and fragile at the same time. That well tightened corsets once again squeezed the bodies of women, killing their waists and giving volume to their hips and breasts, showing off (with a light layer of fabric) that dangerous curves and sinful pale naked skin. BUT: the long hair was gathered-up and even if there was a chance to show a lil more their shapes, the skirts were still long to the feet.
By the early 1920s a social earthquake was rumbling the world but especially the US: women obtained the right to vote, could attend college, War World I was over – and during that women substituted the men at work, seeing a life outside the four walls… sometimes also from the back of a car!
The atmosphere was severe but the desire of enjoying life higher – even if prohibition was right around the corner, it wasn’t that hard to find speakeasies and create occasions to have fun (and by fun I mean: music, dance and alcohol) – moreover the entertainment industry was glowing with the first sounded and coloured motion pictures, and Charleston became the new Bible.
The conquest of all this freedom deserved a makeover from the top to bottom, giving birth to female’s fashion revolution, but also a label in which consecrating the new figure of this modern woman: the Flapper.
Although the etymology of Flapper isn’t that nice (from the 17th century: young bird flapping its wings as it’s learning to fly / prostitute / wild woman) the girls were proud of their new status.
Well with all these shocks and changes, the wardrobe definitely needed a strong twist!
• Let’s start with the hair: bye bye Rapunzel and welcome in bob! Short hair was more practical and easy to manage, furthermore the cut of one of the most precious part of a woman was a sign of taking a very strong position.
Of course this was the moment of glory of the well skilled hairdressers who invented the bob, the shingle and the Eton crop.
• the robe: no more crinolines, no more corsets! The dresscode of the flapper traces its roots in 1915 when Madeleine Vionnet (a kinda young Coco Chanel) introduced the chemise dress, when working for Callot Soeurs: a jumper blouse dropped to below the waist, tied with a loose belt to create a ‘drop waisted’ look.
Around 1920, skirts were above the ankle and by the early 1925, got to below the knee while bare arms and shoulders were both common in evening and day wear.
The whole thing was a swing between elegant simple lines and a jubilation of beads, sequins, jewels and feathers.
• the make up: a dramatic smokey eyes combined with superfine eyebrows (I am sorry Cara Delevigne fans), a lavish dark cherry lipstick, a little bit of fixing powder and you were ready to enjoy your time, and if the lips were naked – after a hard kissing session – you were invited to fix your make up in public.
• the perception of the body: The feminine figure faced a big transformation, switching from an over-shaped to a looser one. It is no secret that by suppressing the bust, erasing the waistline and emphasizing the shoulders the result is a masculine silhouette. But this wasn’t the goal. The inspirational body was the one of a slender flat-chested tanned young girl. And since the daughters of gluttony existed even in the 1920’s, healthy eating, gym and beauty clubs were the ways to obtain that appearance.
There was no place for the chubby busty girls at the parties.
• the attitude: if you were looking for an angel at the hearth… these were the wrong girls to ask for it. The Flappers, fresh libertines who sanctioned sexuality (from breaking the gossip taboo to enjoying occasional entertainment), smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol without any fear to be judged.
Doesn’t it look exactly to the same idea we still do have of a party girl – just with different clothes on?
Maybe all these characteristics to you may sound normal (or crazy picturesque), but we are talking about things that happened almost 100 years ago. This is history and you have say thank you to these young ladies, since without them the miniskirt would never existed.
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