As the 1920s came to an end, the 1930s saw a return to femininity. Gone was the silhouette that suited boyish figures with flattened bust-lines in favor of silhouettes that nipped at the waistline and were more “womanly”. Due to The Great Depression, many escaped to the movies to see the glamour of Hollywood films. Famous designers of the time such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet and Coco Chanel influenced clothing with their innovative designs. And likewise, film also inspired these designers.
Elsa Schiaparelli – Shoulder Pads & The Wrap Dress
The 1930s also introduced a broad shoulder look inspired by the work of Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli who used shoulder pads. Schiaprelli is credited for inventing quite a number of designs. She would create the wrap dress—a design with a front closure wrapped with ties and featuring a V-neckline. The designer is also known for inventing culottes as well–the divided skirt look allowed a freedom for women to do activities like tennis or riding bikes. Schiaprelli and Chanel were described as bitter rivals, with the former closing her business in 1954–although the brand name would rise again years later.
Coco Chanel & The Little Black Dress
In 1926, Vogue US published a picture of Coco Chanel’s little black dress and called it “Chanel’s Ford”—named after the affordably priced Model T car by Henry Ford. Although originally made in the 1920s, it was not until 1930s that the trend really took off. This was for a number of reasons. Black was once thought as a color of mourning but that idea changed as The Great Depression called for more simple clothing and Hollywood film stars also wore the color on film.
Madeleine Vionnet & The Bias Cut Dress
French designer Madeleine Vionnet was famous for her bias-cut clothes. Her dresses were Grecian-inspired with romantic draping achieved by cutting the fabric across the grain at a 45 degree angle. Minimizing darting or doing away with it altogether, Vionnet’s designs embraced the natural female form with free-hanging fabric. Due to wartime hardships, Vionnet closed her design business in 1939, but still remains an influential designer of the early 20th century.