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Art Deco Chic with Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke

Start Date 10 May 2014
End Date 04 August 2014
Venue Langley Centennial Museum
Location Langley City, British Columbia, Canada
Curator Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers

The museum is so excited to welcome well-known clothing collectors Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers back to the Langley Centennial Museum, returning to us for the first time since 2010’s “Plastic Fantastic,” the 1960’s clothing show.

The Art Deco movement had a profound influence on the world of fashion in the 1920s and 1930s. Art Deco is an abbreviation of the title of an exhibition produced in Paris in 1925, “L’Exposition des Arts Decoratif.” This was the first major display of examples of applied art styles reflecting the trend for modernism, cubism, and simplicity.

In the world of fashion, the Art Deco movement reduced the body to its simplest geometric form, a column, or when represented in two dimensions, a flat rectangle. Prior to the First World War (1914-1918), fashionable women presented themselves as a series of ornate curves dressed in complex, tailored garments and often heavily corseted. After the brutality and disillusionment of the war, practicality, simplicity, and even austerity became the norm, even the ideal. Figures exaggerated with corsets and padding were replaced by figures hidden under loose-fitting, sack-like garments in the chemise style in the 1920s. In the 1930s the natural figure re-emerged, but in fashions that echoed the repeated geometry of the Art Deco style.

Through the 1920s, dresses gradually became less loose and hemlines rose. The legs became more visible. Although the figure was still virtually invisible, the exposure of the legs added a provocative element to clothing that was otherwise asexual.

The pieces chosen will reflect the social and political changes that happened during this period, including how fashion changed post-war during the relatively prosperous 1920s, and then again in the days of the Depression. Items presented will contrast what was happening on the world’s fashion scenes in Paris and Berlin with what would have been worn on the streets of Langley Prairie.