1931 was a year in which France experienced an unemployment crisis, Germany announced it was unable to pay their World War 1 debt and Britain was facing a money crisis. It is better known for financial and political difficulty, not fashion. However, in 1931, 200 fashion houses presented collections in Paris and an exhibition at the Credit Municipal de Paris shows us that 1931 was not just doom and gloom but the start of a new age of fashion.
Beginning with the simplicity and elegance of 1930s day dresses we are shown illustration and photography of the ‘robe du jour’, a long, loose dress with a defined waist. The long sleeved three quarter length garment appears more like a top and skirt and is a far cry from the structured corseted ensembles previously employed by women.
We are also shown geometric patterns – a sense of fun and playfulness at last. Here are zig zag patterns inspired by sportswear as well as ‘le pyjama de plague’, easy to wear beach cover up outfits which are easy to wear by women of all sizes with their wide legs, which I am sure, many women are wishing are still in fashion today.
Also on display are beautiful accessories which French Vogue described at the time as the final detail of the outfit to create the silhouette. It is here that we learn that women still had a penchant for 19th century romanticism and long flowing skirts with accentuated waists, tierred skirts and evening coats with bell sleeves which were fur lined – a little glamour goes a long way.
This hidden gem is not to missed for those on a Parisian adventure.
1931: Face-Dos-Profil is on display at Credit Municipal de Paris until July 6