Fashion: Return of the flapper

Beaded dresses, cloche hats, dropped waists and Art Deco fabrics... the Twenties and Thirties are making a comeback on the catwalk, says Katherine Ormerod

The effervescent spirit of the Jazz Age informs many of the looks for the spring/summer collections. From dropped waists to tiered tassels, there is no doubt that the styles of the Twenties – and Thirties – are again in vogue.

The two dominant movements of the era, the decorative Art Deco and clean Utopian Modernism, have provided reference points for an array of designers. The flapper dress, timelessly infused with a sense of joie de vivre, was one of the key pieces this season with fringing, feathers and sequinned details all over the catwalks. Like true flappers, models glistened and glimmered in sparkling designs perfect for dancing the Charleston. At John Galliano the glamour of the boom years was recreated with chiffon ruffles and iridescent cloche hats. Dancing and strutting down the catwalks, Galliano's girls perfectly encapsulated the exuberance of the era, heads held high, swathed in heavy fur and ready to race off in a green Bug0atti.

Over at Nina Ricci, Olivier Theyskens dressed his bright young things in low-waisted mini dresses accessorised with feather hats and boas, the glamour clashing with his grungy, smoky colour palette. Moschino offered multiple variations on the dropped waist and played on the classic Chanel suit combination first popularised in the Twenties.

Aside from the beaded dress, shadows of Art Deco and Modernism were also cast in fabric and print. Angular, Deco-style geometric shapes were seen at Gucci and Basso & Brooke, with graphic uses of colour. These prints are reminiscent of Sonia Delaunay's abstract fabrics. Other fashionable shapes were also referenced with the luxe-pyjama style first popularised for evening wear by Paul Poiret in the Twenties, reinterpreted this season at Dior, Prada and Sportmax.

Jonathan Saunders, the celebrated Scottish-born designer whose collections have made waves both here and across the Atlantic, has a deep design relationship with the interwar years. This season his catwalk featured a range of clothing bearing the hallmarks of the Twenties and Thirties. "What was beautiful about Deco," Saunders comments, "was its simplified approach to decoration."

While Art Deco has been criticised for its apparent paucity of intellectualism, central to the "modernity" of the Jazz Age was the changing role of women in society. After four years of war it was impossible to return to a world in which women were confined to their drawing rooms. A new, more active lifestyle that included driving, playing tennis and dancing the night away drove dramatic changes in female fashion. Sonnet Stanfil, the fashion curator at the V&A, emphasises the role of individual designers, especially Poiret who "liberated women from the petticoat in 1903 and then the corset in 1906". By expanding the shape and silhouette, women were given more options. Stanfil argues that this revolution in undergarments was "groundbreaking in terms of fashion's impact on daily life". Although it took some years to filter through to the mainstream, the new clothing offered women the freedom of movement to ski, swim and dance.

Saunders says that "from a fashion perspective, more thought was put into the way women wanted to live their lives" and that "when you think of Deco you don't think of clothes that are overtly sexy or restrictive".

For all the talk of empowered women, though, the Deco age also provided the backdrop for another salient model of womanhood. While many of the heroines of the Twenties and Thirties were forward thinking, competing in the public sphere, others preferred to conspicuously consume in a way never seen before. The media's image of the WAG – a beautiful materialist totally dependent on the earnings of her husband or consort – is one that the flappers of the Jazz Age would have recognised. The parity between Tamara de Lempicka's heroines, with their waspish waists and never-ending legs – beautiful but ultimately gormless – and the contemporary elevation of the vacuous beauty, is striking.

Art Deco as a style represents a Utopian era, a generation that gorged itself on new, luxury products and that bought into an image of limitless glamour. With just the right mixture of hedonism and style, it is not difficult to understand why it retains so much of its appeal. As we stand on the precipice of our own economic uncertainty, it's perhaps no wonder that we are yearning for an age when it seemed the party would never end.

Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
life“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

    PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice