At first glance, you'll probably think this post is about fashion. it is. It is also about the power our young people have to make change.
building the silhouette
This post is a continuation of blog posts from March 2, 2018 and the original post from February 10, 2018, highlighting the exhibit "from the Inside Out building the silhouette".
My earlier posts featured garments created for women who wanted to look older and more mature. Fashion reflected a full figured woman with wasp-like waists, cinched with corsets and contrasted with bulging bustles made of wire and muslin. This later softened somewhat to a more relaxed hour glass silhouette. Necklines were still high, sleeves and skirts were long, and layers and layers of fabric continued to restrict movement and encourage modesty.
But changes were happening at a rapid pace, and young people no longer wanted to look matronly and restricted. Women had fought and won the right to vote, prohibition was taking place, and jazz exploded on the music scene, bringing swing dances; first the Black Bottom and later the arrival of the Lindy Hop. It was the end of World War I and there was a significant increase in middle class affluence.
The clothes reflected the changes. Skirts rose, necklines dropped and arms were bared. Young people wanted to look like prepubescent girls, embracing their youth for as long as possible, so the silhouette reflected that body type. Underwear was light and loose and the more daring didn't wear it at all.
Young people were angry with the loss of lives in the war. They became acutely aware of the unpredictability of life and wanted to enjoy the present moment. Many turned to casual sex, drinking, smoking and a free spirited, reckless way of life. This was the first time youth rebelled in the United States and it would be over four decades before they would unite again.
And they are rebelling now.
Death, whether during wars, opioid epidemics, or in a class room in Florida, has a way of changing our perspectives. Working with the Gandhi King Peace Coalition taught me there are choices other than violence. Too many adults have accepted it as the only answer. I applaud the young people who are currently circumventing the system, not being manipulated by funds from the NRA or the fear of not being reelected. Those collectively solving problems, instead of escaping and rebelling, will be our leaders of tomorrow. It's a comfort to know they are stepping forward.
As far as fashion, currently most rebellion and social commentary are displayed on T shirts. I'm hoping to see creative designers move beyond cotton crew neck shirts with words. It will be interesting to see what comes next.
As you view these photographs of fashion from the 1920s, keep in mind that most garments were made at home and the execution took hours. The intricacy and detail reflects the exquisite talent of their creators. Instant gratification has replaced the value of investing time and talent in heirloom quality projects. Being able to view these treasures is a gift.
See the exhibit if you can. Gallery information is below.
Co-curated by the
Erin Lehman, Director of the Department of Art and Design Gallery
Julie Potter, Associate Professor of Theater
The exhibit will be on display until March 17, 2018
Gallery Hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Center for the Arts
1 Fine Arts Drive, Towson, MD 21252
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!