The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The parasol was a popular accessory during the 19th and early 20th century, a period when sun tanned skin was highly undesirable. It functioned both as a sunshade and a fashionable accompaniment to dress, distinguishing itself from the umbrella through its infinite and luxurious forms and essentially feminine status. Like the earlier trend for fans parasols displayed an individual's style and could be used in a coquettish ritual to hide the modest bearer from unwanted glances.

With more covered automobiles and the new vogue for sun-tanned skin, the 1920s were the parasol's swansong. Elaborate and novel designs flooded the market in an attempt to win back interest. The cover of this white silk parasol forms a flower when opened, with petals of white picot-edged georgette and a centre formed by the ivory capped ferrule. 'Floriform' designs such as this were first fashionable in the 1850s but were one of numerous novelties revived in the 1920s. Characteristically for this period it is short in length, approximately half what was typical in the previous decade.

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  • Title: Parasol
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1920/1929
  • Location: Belgium
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 51 cm, Width: 60 cm aprox.when open, Width: 9 cm closed
  • Medium: Silk on metal frame with carved wood and ivory handle