A 1930s fashion article which perfectly encapsulated some of the heady excitement that filled the air when "a new crush-resistant, non-wrinkling, packable, ultra-fashionable velvet" hit the market. The material was immediately swooped-up by the glam squad in far-off Hollywood; RKO chief costume designer Walter Plunkett pontificated:
"Velvet is the epitome and symbol of elegance."
Not one to be upstaged, Travis Banton (1894 – 1958) Plunckett's counterpart at Paramount Studios, chimed in declaring:
"The flattery and refinement of velvet is supplied by no other material."
Anticipating the Springtime coronation of Edward VIII, thousands of yards of velvet had been manufactured for the occasion.
Fashion philosophizer and designer Elizabeth Hawes (1903 – 1971) recognized the sham that is fashion - in the attached photo-essay she writes plainly on the matter.
The book is available at Amazon.com:
Fashion is Spinach
This is an historic article that introduced the fashion era that we still reside in today.
The attached article from 1938 heralded a new day in the fashion industry where fashion magazines would no longer be relied upon to set the trends in clothing; henceforth, that roll would largely be played by movie actresses in far-off Hollywood:
"The greatest fashion influence in America, stylists sadly lament, is the much-photographed, much-glamorized and much-imitated Movie Queen. What she wears is news, eagerly copied, by girls all over the country who want to look like Joan Crawford and Myrna Loy."
The primary bone of contention that the East Coast fashionistas found most objectionable was the fact that movie stars are Californians, and Californians will always prefer comfort over glamor.
This magazine article reported on the Miracle Fabric of the 1930s: rayon - and rayon cannot be deleted from any study dealing with Thirties fashion any more than the word "polyester" can be separated from a discussion of 1970s fashion. The article presents a history of the fabric but makes it quite clear that the fabric was immediately embraced by all the fashion houses at that time.
Read about the 1930s revival of velvet.
Click here to read about feminine conversations overheard in the best New York bathrooms of 1937.
A telegraph from Hollywood costume designer Edith Head (1897 – 1981) to the editorial offices of PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE listing various highlights of the 1938 Paris fashion scene. Not surprisingly, it reads like a telegram:
• Long waistlines, short flared skirts, fitted bodices, tweeds combines with velvet, warm colors...
• Hair up in pompadours piles of curls and fringe bangs.
• Braid and embroidery galore lace and ribbon trimmings loads of jewelry mostly massive.
• Skirts here short and not too many pleats more slim skirts with slight flare."
The great Hollywood modiste wrote in this odd, Tarzan-english for half a page, but by the end one is able to envision the feminine Paris of the late Thirties.
Recommended Reading: Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer.
Click here to read about physical perfection during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Although sunglasses had slowly inched their way forward in popularity since the late Twenties, the attached article declared that by 1939 sunglasses were officially recognized as a full-fledged fashion accessory when the Hollywood stars Joan Bennet and Hedy Lamar began to sport them around town.
Like T-shirts and khaki pants, it would be W.W. II that would provide sunglasses with a guaranteed spot on fashion stage for the next sixty-five years.
Click here to read a 1961 article about Jacqueline Kennedy's influence on American fashion.