Saturday, 27 June 2009
Belle Epoque (Beautiful Age) Dressing the Part (2)
The turn of the twentieth century brought with it significant changes in American culture and fashion. Working women, in sales and clerical positions, had more money to spend. They could take advantage of the new department stores that made "modish" garments and cosmetics readily available. Women could also travel alone in Model "T" Fords and venture unchaperoned into nickelodeon theaters. The result was a democratization of cultural amusements and a liberation from bourgeois domination over matters of taste and style. Although dress was still restrictive, it asserted a more overt female sexuality and was symbolic of women’s increasing independence.
The new styles were largely inspired by forms of theater that in past years had been taboo. Whereas "women of the stage" had been considered "low" and "unchaste," they were now considered to be at the forefront of fashion. Burlesque women, whose blatant sexuality had openly ridiculed bourgeois order, inspired the fashionable Gibson Girl shape with its voluptuous projections of the bust and the hips. As more women became independent and publicly active, the corset became looser and the "new look" became waistless. Paul Poiret, the French designer inspired by the "harem" costumes of the Ballets Russes, ushered in this style in 1908 which rejected the corset and sported shockingly cropped hair. Latin dancing --associated in years past with classes on the fringe of "respectable" society -- became a popular pastime and demanded erotic, thin clothing. As the suffrage movement gathered in force and women’s sexuality became more acceptable (Vogue proclaimed in 1908, "The leg has suddenly become fashionable"), women’s dress loosened its strictures and followed suit.
***Fonte de informacao.: PBS