The 1920’s Roaring Again?

Every fashion season has its share of historical influences on the newest designs. For 2003, the era of choice may be the 1920s. Though the ’20s and the 2000s reveal surprising social and economic contradictions, they display several fashion parallels.

The emphasis, however, is less on the partying aesthetic associated with Flapper Girls, their beaded bags, or sartoires. Instead, designers have rediscovered the femininity of florals, the distinctive feel of sheer fabrics, and the grand statements of soft color prints. While not all fashion designers embrace this ideal (Calvin Klein, for example, remains true to his minimalist mantra), there is a general design trend away from severe simplicity and toward more ornate looks.

For jewelry, it translates into more carved stones and a continued taste for enamel and opaque stones—especially opal and mother-of-pearl, both 1920s favorites. Natural influences, primarily floral motifs, should be strong in a year paying homage to such feminine fashion, and designers are stepping up the use of rose gold and rose-cut diamonds in tribute to this bygone era. To match wispy silhouettes with flowing fabrics and deep necklines, drop earrings and pendant necklaces will remain popular.

The general design trend carries through from fashion—with the reemergence of these 1920s influences—to furniture design, with mid-century simplicity yielding to a softer, more ornate or countrified look á là Laura Ashley.

In explaining the emergence of this style, trend spotters point in part to pop culture’s rediscovery of Virginia Woolf, especially as portrayed by fashion icon Nicole Kidman in the film The Hours. Many are banking on Kidman’s influence doing for ’20s fashions what she did for the corset and garter in Moulin Rouge two years ago.