First impressions of the exhibition Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties might suggest that the only important article of clothing during the Jazz Age was the bathing suit.
Twenties artists were drawn to swimmers because the new, revealing swimsuits—made of stretchy, clinging wool—allowed them to celebrate the modern body more openly. The new styles designed for women in the Twenties were tightly aligned with liberalized attitudes toward the body. To explore these shifts in style, I recently moderated a panel discussion held at the Museum with a panel of experts that included Lisa Padovani, costume designer for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire; Jan Reeder, Consulting Curator for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and WWD photographer Kyle Ericksen. You can join in the discussion by taking a look at the video of the event.
What might surprise you? During the twenties, there were not yet any influential American designers, and most American dress-makers supplying the new, ready-to-wear market relied on reports from Paris in magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair. A revolution in underthings inspired and supported the essential re-design of dresses. The new, tubular dresses—with low waists and no darts at the bust—went hand-in-hand with the scrapping of the hourglass corset in favor of silky underthings and stretchy girdles. And hemlines, although newly short, had ups and downs over the course of the decade, and were cut in a variety of draped shapes. Who are the contemporary designers who are reviving 20s fashion ideas in their lines this spring? Take a look at the video and find out!!
Terry Carbone received her Masters in the History of Art from the University of Delaware, and her Doctorate from the CUNY Graduate Center. She has been on the curatorial staff of the Brooklyn Museum since 1985, and is now the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art. She served as co-curator of the major exhibition "Eastman Johnson: Painting America", in 1999, and as co-author and volume editor of the accompanying exhibition catalogue of the same title, which was awarded the New York State Historical Associations' prestigious Henry Allen Moe Prize. She also served as project director for the innovative reinstallation of the Museum's American art galleries, which opened in 2001 as "American Identities: A New Look." More recently Terry completed the project to which she has devoted much of her tenure at the museum: serving as principal author of a two volume scholarly catalogue "American Paintings in the Brooklyn Museum: Artists Born by 1876." This publication was recently awarded the College Art Association's Alfred H. Barr Prize, presented each year for an especially distinguished museum publication on the history of art. Terry has now begun work on a major exhibition on the American 1920s.