The feel of the 1930s dances through this season’s collections like swing jazz.
Some references were obvious, such as Jason Wu‘s Old Hollywood-inspired bias-cut satin evening dresses and the Bloomsbury Group boho at Burberry Prorsum. Prada‘s Art Deco patterns and chevron necklines were a strong nod to the German avant-garde and Weimar Republic.
Others were more subtle. The strong coloured banding on trousers and tops at Givenchy were sly Bauhaus references (these details appeared in Riccardo Tisci’s menswear collection in January, too).
At Celine, Phoebe Philo’s starting point was Hannah Hoch and Lee Miller, vital artists in the dadaist and surealist art movements. Her exploration led her to focus on a photo of Miller in the bath at Hitler’s Munich flat, taken when she accompanied allied forces to the Führer’s home. The provocative image led to a collection about women working in a man’s world and the adaption of male dress for the female form. For a more straightforward view of the decade’s fashion, head to the Horst exhibition at the VA. The photographer got his first break in the 1930s at British Vogue.
If this all sounds rather heavy on theory, but light on wearability, don’t worry: the clothes are as interesting and beautiful as the thought process behind them.