Classy and joyful dresses in the National Museum of Costume

Black evening dress, Unknown author, 1918/1920, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal
The proclamation of the republic (1910) and World War I (1914/18) changed social and political conditions in Portugal and in Europe.
Cream dress, Unknown author, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

The 1920’s, or the Roaring Twenties, was a decade of prosperity, pursuit of pleasure, nightlife enjoyment and artistic renovation.

Cream dress, Unknown author, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

The 1920’s witnessed the publishing of new newspapers and magazines. Portuguese fashion magazines such as Voga, Modas & Bordados and Eva also reached a wider audience.

Pink dress, Unknown author, 1920/1930, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Fashion trends still come from France, as in previous decades, through the bourgeois elite who buy from the Parisian haute couture houses.

Pink dress, Unknown author, 1920/1930, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

At the same time, department stores create new consumer habits and democratize fashion.

Coloured silk taffeta dress, Unknown author, 1920/1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Women’s clothes moved definitely towards functionality, keeping pace with the Art Deco style characterised by an elegant and decorative geometry.

Coloured silk taffeta dress, Unknown author, 1920/1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal
Cream silk evening dress, Unknown author, 1920/1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

The young women of the 1920’s rejected the generous and curvy body lines of the early 20th century. They wish to get an androgynous silhouette with a flat chest.

Portrait of Maria Luísa Cabral Metelo, Jean-Gabriel Domergue, 1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal
Portrait of Maria Luísa Cabral Metelo, Jean-Gabriel Domergue, 1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

The Garçonne, with an androgynous silhouette, personified the modern and free woman with short hair and strong make up. She would dance the jazz and smoke in public.

Black dress, Unknown author, 1920/1930, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

The dresses were cut in straight lines and had low waists, emphasizing the flat chest, the slender and curveless body.

Black dress, Unknown author, 1920/1928, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Skirts hemline height varied throughout the decade and only from 1926 onwards did it show the legs above the knees becoming one of the strongest features of its time.

Pink silk taffeta evening dress, Unknown author, 1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Throughout the ages evening wear has always reproduced day dress. However, women’s evening dresses have particular features. The dresses suited for dancing were short with round or square necklines, usually cut in evasée.

Black dress, Unknown author, 1926/1927, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Fabrics such as satin, crepe, chiffon or muslin are fully embroidered with beads and sequins and with lace trimmings.

Evening dress, Unknown author, 1925, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Colours were preferably vivid ones, although black was also appreciated. The naked arms were covered with long evening gloves.

Salmon pink purse, Unknown author, 1920/1930, From the collection of: National Museum of Costume in Portugal
"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
Coco Chanel
Credits: Story

Texts: Dina Caetano Dimas
Translations: Xénia Flores Ribeiro
Online exhibition: Cândida Caldeira

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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