This 1938 red silk velvet suit by Gabrielle Chanel is one of her more vibrant creations and part of a flamboyant trend in her work in the late 1930s.
The year 1938 was a period of transition from the catastrophic Great Depression to World War II. Women’s fashion was exuberant: vibrant colors, Surrealist accessories, ornate hats with minimal embellishments were key trends. However, the overall silhouette was simple, clean, and sophisticated. Hemlines began to fall down below the knees. Restrained, structured shoulders evolved into the iconic puff sleeve. Public figures such as the Duchess of Windsor inspired women in their everyday dress.
1930 was a transitional year. Not yet at the height of glamour reached later in the decade, designers’ 1930 collections moved away from the flapper’s boxy shape in an attempt to define the look of the modern woman who must navigate through the Great Depression.
In the 1930s, fashion saw a profound influence from films and specifically Hollywood. Men’s, women’s, and children’s styles were based on fashions seen on screen with stars like Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Shirley Temple among the many who directly influenced fashion. A return to conservatism after the Roaring Twenties also marked fashion during this period.
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