During the 1920s a design style known as "art deco" dominated fashion and the applied arts, as well as influencing architecture and interior styling. Uncompromisingly geometric, angular and dramatic, in textiles it juxtaposed blocks of colour and contrasting stripes; zigzags mixed with curves, stylised flowers with sunbursts. The simple uncluttered women's shift or flapper dresses lent themselves to such bold decoration, such as the applique children's windmills on the dress below. Scrarves and shawls might be dramatically patterned with printing or devore velvet (see main image and purple detail below). Accessories could be made in sharp colours, angular shapes and with bold trimming.
Styled "chic" to represent the modern fashionable unfussy image, 1920s simplicity contrasted with Edwardian frills, and spawned a hard-edged artistic style as seen in the page from a 1930 diary below. Art deco designs like these have influenced many more recent artists, especially those in the 1970s such as Barbara Hulanicki at Biba, or Ossie Clark with Celia Birtwell (see the fabric details and evening dress below). In essence, art deco styles are eye-catching and timeless, appealing to a modern audience as much as to one 80 years ago.
Full item descriptions:
"bag" [1972.158], Bridge
"hat" [1947.4498], Josella
"gloves" [1999.112], Gant Neyret
"dress" [2003.173], Clark, Ossie, Birtwell, Celia
"evening dress" [1984.281], Biba, Hulanicki, Barbara