2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


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Introduction Belle Epoque Jazz Age Hollywood Goes
To War
Modern Century Anything Goes Power And Opulence

The flapper dress of the 1920s gave way to the glamorous, sensuous look of the 1930s. The big-band swing era provided a perfect backdrop for dresses that clung to the body above the hips and draped in graceful folds below. Hemlines fell and the backless evening gown gained immense popularity. In 1930 the fashion writer for the chic magazine New Orleanian recommended a $25 metallic cloth dress with Grecian lines as "very apropos for the young matron" at a Carnival ball. During the decade, Hollywood began to influence fashion. Joan Crawford's 1932 role in Letty Lynton helped narrow hips.

During World War II, the War Production Board sought to conserve fabric. Its L-85 order prohibited full skirts and knife pleats, while another order limited the use of lace and embroidery. Despite these restrictions, American designers came into their own due to loss of communication with the French during the Nazi occupation.

Evening dress and capelet
Kay Selig
ca. 1945

Kahn Tailoring Co., Indianapolis
ca. 1945
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The 1930s

The primary influence on the fashionable shape of the 1930s was the bias-cut dress introduced by renowned French designer Madeleine Vionnet. Dress construction and fabric emphasized the female shape, creating a streamlined effect in keeping with the Art Deco aesthetic of the period. Fabrics were draped to create soft necklines and deep backs. Evening clothes became more distinct from day wear; long gowns for women and tuxedos or tails for men were common attire for night clubs. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were paragons of style. As American designers such as Hattie Carnegie and Adele Simpson gained prominence during World War II, the silhouette became more curvaceous with a closely fitted bodice and waist.

Evening gown
Unknown maker
ca. 1930
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Evening gown
Saks Fifth Avenue Salon Moderne, New York
ca. 1936
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