So the other day I was reading about the Roaring Twenties. I had forgotten how much astonishing shit happened during that decade: women’s suffrage, the Lost Generation, the Jazz Age, Charles Lindburgh, radio, the mass production of the automobile, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Al Capone, and so on. (Maybe I can rework the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire“!)
Of course the 1920s was also the era of Art Deco, the eclectic style that began in Paris. Unfortunately I’ve never experienced the hedonistic, pastel, Art Deco playground that is South Beach, but I have found a way to inject some of the movement’s distinctive linear symmetry into my wardrobe. For your consideration: take this cardigan that I flat-out adore. I made the relatively rare decision to pay full price ($100) for it at Anthropologie last year. I couldn’t resist its super-softness or cropped silhouette which pairs perfectly with A-line and fuller skirts as well as jeans. And I still love the pink thread and detailing on the buttons (swoon). Plus, it’s machine washable—a convenient “must” for summer clothes. Just 1) throw it in a lingerie bag, 2) set on the delicate, cold cycle, and 3) dry on a sweater rack (double swoon).
Oops, I digress. The pièce de resistance? The pattern reminds me of this print by Russian-born French artist Erté (né Romain de Tirtoff). Erté, the French pronunciation of his initials “R.T.” (who the hell knew?), “is perhaps most famous for his elegant fashion designs which capture the Art Deco period.” (This must be true cuz my 2009 wall calendar featuring his prints says the same thing.)
And you can’t talk about the Twenties without pondering the—let’s face it—totally bizarre and flabbergasting concept of Prohibition. (Didn’t legislators know that we Americans will sell our firstborn for a glass of Chardonnay at the end of a hard day? Duh.) Well before I could say “moonshine,” I saw this six-pack at a restaurant on Friday night:
It looks like a gangsta version of this Erté illustration from the cover of Harper’s Bazaar:
That issue ran in November 1933, one month before the passage of the 21st amendment to the Constitution, which meant flappers and mobsters could once again party hearté.
Update on July 19, 2011: Apparently Baz Luhrmann’s 3D version of The Great Gatsby starring Carey Mulligan is set to start filming next month. So get ready for a wave of Art Deco-inspired jewelry and ’20s nostalgia.