The flapper is the enduring emblem of the Roaring Twenties – a liberated young woman with cropped hair, rolled stockings and a public thirst for cocktails.
(My grandmother aspired to be one and only managed, as best we could in Cairo, Illinois, to marry an older man when she was 17 and give birth to my father a few months before the stock market crash, bringing the frivolity of the decade to a screeching halt.)
Our undying affection for the boyish boy is kindled by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel Jazz Age, Gatsby the magnificentand its many stage and film adaptations, with their depictions of wild parties featuring guests like Miss Baedecker (“When she’s had five or six cocktails, she always starts screaming like that”) and Lucille (“I don’t never care what I’m doing, so I always have a good time.”)
Vintage fashion blog Glamor Daze’s new colorized images of a 1929 fashion show in Buffalo, New York, at the top of this article, present a much calmer image than Fitzgerald or Ethel Hays, whose daily cartoon Flapper Fanny was wildly popular with young women and men at the time.
The scene it presents seems healthier than one might have found in New York, with what Fitzgerald dubbed its “savage promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” The models seem more passionate than the pros on the runway, though casually lined up on a wall, all feature “beautiful stems”.
My young grandmother would have loved the cloche hats, tea dresses, bathing suits, lounge pajamas, golf and tennis sets and party dresses, although the video colorization process based on Deep Exemplar seems to have stained the skin and teeth of some models. by mistake.
The original black-and-white footage is part of the University of South Carolina’s Fox Movietone News collection, whose other fashion-related clips from 1929 include presentations featuring Washington debutantes and college students.
The added sound brings the period to life with no mention of the Charleston or gin, but if you want to get a sense of 1920s fashion, check out the collection’s non-silent Movietone clip of the latest swimwear from 1929 – this is a modernist beach set in rayon jersey with diagonal stripes and a sun cut in the back…
It’s the cat’s pajamas. Just like this playlist of hits from 1929.
Explore Glamor Daze’s guide to the history of 1920s fashion here.
Watch the original black and white images from the Buffalo, New York fashion show here.
– Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist of East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Little Potato Manifesto. Am here @AyunHalliday.