Machine net, crepe de chine, beads, sequins
Freed from the privations of wartime, fashions of the 1920s were opulent and luxurious, inspired by transatlantic cultural exchange and in particular, the cultures of East Asia and Egypt.
Designers such as Callot Souers and Jeanne Paquin created decadent garments from materials including silk and velvet, which were richly detailed with beading, fringing, Chinese-style embroidery, Egyptian-inspired patterns, ostrich feathers and fur trims.
The Roaring Twenties is associated with economic prosperity, luxury and leisure. Garments from this decade reflected the popularity of Jazz music. Shorter hemlines and bare arms freed the body for exuberant new dance crazes such as the Charleston. Beadwork and fringing were especially popular for evening wear, as they responded to the dancer’s every movement.
The beaded dresses of the 1920s were the epitome of sartorial decadence, featuring luxurious materials such as glass beads, seed pearls, chiffon and silk net. As a result of their construction methods, surviving examples are often in very poor condition. This dress spent more than 150 hours in our textile conservation studio before it could go on display.