It came up in my Yahoo news yesterday a list of 10 current high street flapper dresses that Yahoo had put together. It was a useful update, as I haven’t been to high street shops for a while (it’s difficult to make oneself go to high street shops when one can spend so much time looking at the real classic fashion on Etsy and blogs…). I had been curious to see what high street would be putting out for modern interpretations of the 1920s flapper dress, since interest in the 1920s fashion era seems to have been steadily ascending recently in our quest into past eras for inspirations, and I thought they were sure to do it. The recent great success of the film The Artist has certainly helped, and Yahoo says that the new film for The Great Gatsby is coming up (I thought, what, another one? and I haven’t even seen the older one or read the book yet! My isn’t it tough catching up with the past?). And even before all that, my local retro film club Film Fatale in Dublin did back in December a screening of Singing in the Rain which was 1950s recreating 1920s (and flapper dresses). Then there have been the many TV period series which I unfortunately don’t watch.
It’s actually not a bad list, especially the very last one from Wallis, which is a beige light short dress with gold threading, embroidered embellishment at neck and hem, and sewn-on drop-waist belt. It’s surprisingly authentic-looking (Wallis says that it was taken from their dress pattern archive in the 1927 Swing range), although I’m not sure about the colour pairing in the model photo on Wallis’s product page – ink-blue fur stole and Christmas-red stockings on beige dress? The three colours together just don’t work for me and look rather like a patch-work quilt (the blue and the red would be tricky in the best of situations) and I really hope it’s not Wallis’s idea of how to update a flapper dress – definitely neither glamorous nor rebellious. The dress itself is attractive.
That being said for the design, I have to say that the construction and decoration can’t match the real thing, i.e., vintage flapper dresses or the truly meticulously designed and crafted modern recreations, and would run the risk of looking dowdy soon after a few wears. The details (oh the sequins and beads!) on real vintage (now approaching antique) flapper evening dresses are absolutely so (almost terrifyingly) exquisite, like this vintage art deco 20s dress from ForgottenMuse and this other from PomPomClothing on Etsy. And also I would not like so much to run into people wearing the same dress as I, which is always likely to happen with one-piece high street fashion…
I personally think the flapper style, especially the Art Deco drop-waist beaded evening dress is absolutely fascinating and flamboyant. I’m less fond of the swing fringe dress although they are somewhat easier to wear and I have a vintage one myself. But the drop-waist beaded sheer dress is just…so like a glamourous boy’s vest that it’s absolutely incomparably cool?
And it does take a figure to carry it off.
Which I thought Bérénice Bejo did an awfully good job at in The Artist this (last) year:
All very admirable. However I myself am somehow perpetually stuck with the Victorian silhouette, as I was telling Miss Nicole Dotto on Etsy recently. I’d still like a good waist any time of the day or any day of the year…Maybe I just don’t have very flapper-ish manners, or hair, for that matter. I’d be interested to see if I can find a flapper style of my own, maybe a transition between an Edwardian girl and a flapper (which was constantly happening in the real 20s). I guess I’ll need to find that flapper dress – there was this drop-waist vintage 50s but 20s-style dress that I bought from Nicole’s shop on sale last month, which is pearly pink with white three tiers of lace from the hips and mid-calf length – It’s really sweet but I think I may try to beautify it more, , maybe by laying skirt(s) underneath to make it longer and adding more details to the top part. It’ll be an experiment! (in which no part of the dress shall be harmed).
One of the real causes for my now thinking that the flapper style is lovely is Madame Chic de France‘s recent couture creations of flapper dresses. She puts so much research, detail, and craft into the dresses; and they turn out absolutely unbelievably classy and authentic looking. I must say that dresses such as this flapper wedding gown by her have helped restore my faith in the 20s. Soon after having seen her flapper wedding dresses, I started looking at pages such as this Squidoo flappers page and the fashion-era.com’s 1927 weddings page, and it felt like, aha! Victorian creeping into Edwardian creeping into flapper! – at that point I realised that flapper could be just as classy my beloved Victorian and Edwardian.
In closing, I must mention that I found, while writing this post, a limited-edition Topshop 20s dress which is detailed and quite lovely.
The beading does look impressively exquisite, and the price knows it, which is 510 USD on the website. Although the Topshop description says it’s pink, the photos look more like a salmon colour and I wish they had explained it better, as it looks like a potentially difficult colour. It certainly is pretty, in any case, although for 510 USD…I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to buy a flapper dress for that much money I would definitely get something vintage whether straight from the 20s or later eras on Etsy rather than Topshop. It’s such a pity that there are not many original 1920s dresses left because the material was often so delicate, but with a bit of money and research, one can still find a good number of stunning real 20s gowns!