The fashion and entertainment worlds are having an Art Deco moment! Channeling the current season of Downton Abbey, set in 1922, many stars at the Golden Globes made colorful, bold Art Deco jewelry a key part of their red carpet looks. But you don’t need to wait for a black tie event! Vintage Art Deco jewelry is easily wearable, always fashionable, and effortlessly makes a statement.
In the wake of World War I, women gained freedom from the restrictions of the strict 19th century social code. Whether entering the workforce or engaging in popular outdoor sports, women needed clothing that allowed for freedom of movement. Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, and Madeleine Vionnet revolutionized women’s fashion by simplifying silhouettes, removing the need for corsets, and raising hemlines. Designed in 1921-22, the evening dresses above by Vionnet (gold and black) and Poiret (red embroidered) from the Met’s Costume Institute collection illustrate the new styles.
Fashion’s changing look called for corresponding new shapes in jewelry. Strands of pearls, pendants on long chains, and the sautoir, a type of long beaded necklace accentuated the straight silhouette and high necklines of 1920s fashion. As women starting cutting their long 19th century waves into cropped, structured bobs, they put aside their dainty earrings in favor of longer styles. Chunky cocktail rings with colored gems adorned women’s hands in the early evening, while sleek diamond dinner rings replaced them for later festivities. The relaxing of social codes also meant that the color black was no longer reserved for mourning and it soon became the signature color of the decade (Thank you, Coco Chanel!).