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100 Years of fashion - 1930s Fashion: Hollywood divas and costume designers


100 Years of fashion - 1930s Fashion: Hollywood divas and costume designers

1930's fashion was heavily influenced by Hollywood, and the popular actors of stage and screen.
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1930's fashion was heavily influenced by Hollywood, and the popular actors of stage and screen.  Men’s, women’s, and children’s styles were based on fashions worn by Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Shirley Temple. During this period, fashion was also marked by a return to conservatism after the Roaring Twenties.    

1930s fashion: Women

As the 1920s turned into the 1930's, women's fashion softly evolved from the boyish look of the previous decade into the feminine silhouette of the early thirties. With the stock market crash in 1929, and the opening of the new decade, hemlines descended back to ankle length, and waistlines moved back to their natural place.

Despite these departures from the prevailing mode of the previous decade, the popular styles of the early 1930s were similar in their simple lines to the garçonne look of the twenties. But while the simplicity of the 1920s created a sack-like outline, with no curves on show, the simple lines of the early thirties hugged those curves, creating a soft, feminine silhouette.

Contributing to the overall slender look of the early thirties was one of the most important developments and trends of the decade: the bias cut, which meant cutting the fabric 45 degrees against the weave, creating a fluid, body-skimming garment. Designer Madeleine Vionnet began using the bias cut in the 1920s, and in the thirties, it became a popular method of creating dresses that skimmed over women’s curves.
Evening wear was defined by satin dresses with low backs, like the silvery Vionnet dress from 1932. Other designers, such as Chanel, also used the method. Jean Harlow-style evening dresses and the casual look of Katharine Hepburn also became famous, and designers such as  Elsa Schiaparelli (who is credited with "changing the outline of fashion from soft to hard, from vague to definite", and Lucien Lelong acknowledged the impact of film costumes on their work. 

While eveningwear became dominated by the body-skimming silhouette, daywear returned to romanticism and femininity. Day dresses came in a variety of patterns: floral, plaid, dots, and more abstract prints, like the zebra. They had clearly defined waists. and fell between the mid-calf and just above the ankle. Smart suits were popular, with crisp lines and sculptural, defined shoulders, like those in the  Edward Molyneux dress from 1939. The exaggerated shoulder – on suits or dresses – was a hallmark of 1930s fashion, and was created through padding, layers of fabric, or other embellishments.

Increasingly, women looked to movie stars for fashion inspiration during this period. Hollywood disseminated fashion to the masses and stars like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Bette Davis, became some of the first Hollywood style icons. Women all over the world attempted to emulate their style, facilitated by a rise in makeup and the beauty industry, they could copy their favourite stars at a small cost.

1930's fashion: Men

As menswear became more democratic, men’s fashion became more defined by what was absent than what was present. Menswear continued to become less formal, and some of the traditional pieces, such as spats, gloves, canes, waistcoats and vests were all facing virtual extinction. When Clark Gable revealed that he wasn’t wearing one in the 1934 film,  It Happened One Night, (for which he won an Oscar) the sale of undershirts dropped dramatically!

Suits were still worn for formal occasions and work, but casual wear, such as knitted sweaters and soft-collared shirts became increasingly popular during the day. Of course, formalwear did not disappear altogether, and the tuxedo continued to be a popular choice. New material such as sharkskin (a synthetic fabric) gained popularity for suits in the mid-to-late thirties, while tuxedos were a favourite in warm climates.

Success in the field of fashion design requires the right guidance from industry experts to help budding designers hone their individual talents. Look no further than Istituto Marangoni, a leading design school that has been training professionals for 85 years. The coupling of a well-established school and a modern vision has enabled Istituto Marangoni to become an industry leader that educates, guides and nurtures talent in all its forms, empowering its students to compete on an international stage. 


The London School of Fashion and Design at Istituto Marangoni

In the heart of one of the most cosmopolitan capitals of the world, The London School of Fashion and Design at Istituto Marangoni embodies excellence, creativity and innovative thinking, and we pride ourselves on nurturing the creativity of our students to help them bring their ideas to life. Istituto Marangoni places particular emphasis on ethics, design research and business innovation.
Sustainability is a buzzword in the fashion world at the moment, one that we intend to ensure never goes out of style, and we encourage responsible design and business innovation, seeking to help nurture this in our fledgeling creatives. Helping future designers to truly make their mark, Istituto Marangoni is the perfect launchpad for a career in Interior Design. 

Undergraduate courses

We offer a range of undergraduate courses in areas such as fashion design, styling, business, interior design and product design. Whether you are looking to develop your individual style and build a solid future in fashion with our undergrad course in Fashion Design, or enrol in a sandwich course to apply your academic knowledge to a real-world context, we have the right course for you. Join our virtual open day, visit us in person, or give us a call, and we will be happy to help you find the path most suitable for your individual talents and ambitions.

Postgraduate courses

So you love what you do and you want to hone your skills? Then it’s time to think about a post graduate course. At Istituto Marangoni we offer a wide range of postgraduate courses for those who are looking to achieve levels of excellence. In the race to employment, having a postgrad will give you a head start over other graduates, and the preparation offered at Istituto Marangoni is known for its excellence. Whether you are looking at a course in Fashion Promotion or Jewellery Design, our postgraduate courses are specialised programmes that support participants’ careers in the design industry. 



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