1920s fashion at Allentown Art Museum (2013)

1920s fashion at Allentown Art Museum

Fabulous Flappers: Fashion from the Ellie Laubner Collection
February 3 - April 14, 2013

Press release text by Allentown Art Museum

Step into the Museum’s Scheller Gallery and be transported back in time to the fascinating decade of the 1920s, renowned for its energy, excitement, and ostentation. The clothing, accessories, and jewelry of the period, presented in this exhibition, show off in dramatic fashion the sociological changes taking place during this transitional decade and the liberating role of the Flappers— young women who delighted in defying the social norms of the era by bobbing their hair and wearing short skirts— as American society stepped into the modern age. Approximately 150 items worn by Flappers and their beaus to beaches, football games, tea dances, weddings, night clubs, and speakeasies will be on display.

Evening Gowns— More than a dozen shimmering evening gowns dripping with rhinestones, sequins, and beads reflect the sheer excitement and exhilaration of this flamboyant period. You won’t want to miss the exquisite handwork featured on two designer gowns from the houses of Worth and Revillin.

Lingerie— Learn how the ideal figure evolved from the voluptuous lines of the Art Nouveau period to the boyish figure of the Art Deco era, and discover what women wore to create this new garconne figure.

Bridal Wear— Observe the wedding portraits of two beautiful 1920’s brides and their actual wedding gowns and headpieces adorned with traditional wax orange blossoms.

Sportswear— Sneak a peek at the risqué California one-piece bathing suit and learn the fate of brazen young flappers who had the audacity to appear on public beaches in these indecent suits!

Handbags and Vanity Cases— Dozens of handbags made of beads, mesh, and leather will be on display. As flappers emulated their favorite motion picture stars they began to experiment with makeup, creating a demand for vanity cases in all shapes and sizes.

Footwear— Browse through elegant footwear worn by “well-heeled” flappers. Find out why shoes had instep straps and the connection between flappers and galoshes.

Jewelry— Marvel at the extensive costume jewelry display that includes long strands of flapper beads and Art Deco-style necklaces. Examine samples of Egyptian-inspired jewelry and learn why it achieved popularity during the 1920s.

In 2009 local resident Ellie Laubner donated more than two thousand items spanning over two hundred years from her private collection to the Allentown Art Museum. Ellie, who has a BS degree in Elementary Education from East Stroudsburg University, began collecting vintage fashions when her mother-in-law presented her with evening gowns, beaded bags, and eyeglasses. This seminal event inspired a thirty-year quest to acquire clothing and accessories that reflect the styles, events, technology, decorative arts, and the sociological changes taking place in our society. From 1986 to 1992 Ellie taught “History of Costume” and “Color, Line, and Design” at Northampton Community College. She has written two books: Fashions of the Roaring Twenties and Collectible Fashions of the Turbulent 1930s.”

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