first appearance of the halter dress for evening and then the exposure
of the midriff, seen in formal gowns and later worn by the stars was acceptable to the censors only if the wearer's
Hair was now chin to shoulder-length and softly
waved. In contrast to the boisterous twenties,
an elegant and sophisticated woman appeared on the silver screen, expertly manufactured by the studios. Depression weary audiences
flocked in record numbers to the cinema. There inside the movie house, a
world of glamour existed that most women could only imagine. Gowns
were an important ingredient to the recipe and they had to be chic.
Sparkle was accomplished with sequins and shine on black and white
filmstock. Diffusion filters created a filmy gauze for dreamlike
Quite modern, the new
and self-sufficient, her loose bosom and softly broadened
shoulders replacing the boyishly flat and linear silhouette of the 20's.
Costume jewelry was also heavily utilized in black
and white films to achieve sparkle and glitz and soft
finger waves of hair were also adorned with rhinestones and feathers.
42nd Street (1933) Gold Diggers of 1933, Fashions
of 1934 and Gold Diggers of 1935 were
wonderful fantasy films that showcased
Busby Berkely's amazing
choreography as well as the gorgeous slim fitting styles and glamorous
end of the thirties, companies like
Eisenberg, originally a dress
manufacturer, began to concentrate solely on the manufacture of sparkling rhinestone
pins and clips. Dress clips, Fur clips, and Duette clips were considered
the ultimate accessory in Sterling Silver, but more affordable pieces were
also sold in rhodium, spelter and pot metal.
The Eisenberg Dress Company
had discovered that the dress clips they had accessorized with an
Eisenberg dress were far more sought after than the dress itself.
Eisenberg "Ice" was now the companies main focus.
American Modern movement, which began
as early as 1925, began to reflect the desire for streamlined and stylized
objects. A new generation of industrial designers, such as Norman
Bel Geddes, Donald Deskey and Russel Wright, transformed mundane objects
like tea kettles, cocktail shakers and other kitchenware into dynamic and
beautiful sculpture. Decisively altering the shape and character
of the everyday things with which we live, these designers helped to
glamorize and place importance on form.
immense success of the "design for a new age," popularized
in advertising and Hollywood, led to the 1930s wedding silhouette of a satin bias cut gown, which closed at the side or buttoned down the back,
that hugged and fit a women's body and showed off her curves. Often this
sleek style was modified with the addition of
a clasped two-piece
belt sewn into the side seams. The self fabric
belt buckled at center waist with a
sparkling rhinestone duette
that fit together. The gown's sleeves were long and often had fullness at the
upper arm tapering at the forearm and ending in a wedding point above the
Lace sleeved bias silk satin gown, softly shirred at front bust in a vertical
gather to the peter pan collar and raised
underbust seam. Closure down center back.
with French rolled buttons
A removable train is in one with the girdle
and attaches in center front with a duette clip.
Economy of style was important in the
The detachable train allowed the Bride to wear her
gown after the wedding as an evening dress.
It could be cut and dyed for evening wear.
For most of
the 1930s Brides, a long, sleek appearance was desired and
a natural, slim silhouette became the fashion with accents on the bias
cutting and draping of the gown's fabric. By now everyone was
Madeleine Vionnet's invention of cutting across the weave of the
fabric. Her cutting technique gave such elasticity to the fabric
that a silk satin gown could be pulled over the head or just simply
Crepe backed silk charmuese was favored for its luxurious
drape, feel and sultriness. Crepe fabric was also extremely popular for the bias
cut, with versions of cloky crepe, rough crepe, crinkled crepe, metal
crepe and Romaine crepe as options. Silk tulle was used for veiling, as it hung limp and straight and matched the sleekness of the
Lelong Silk Bias Gown 1934
European designers, such as
Rouff, Edward Molyneux and Lucien Lelong were famous
for the understated slim look that was quickly copied by American pattern makers.
Lelong was a second generation couturier, and was particularly adept at
silk. In 1934, he introduced a line of ready to wear
bias cut silk satin wedding gowns of classical elegance. Their debut coincided with Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration in the United
INDUSTRIAL RECOVERY ACT
(NIRA), a U.S. law enacted by Congress in
June 1933, was one of the measures by which President Franklin D.
Roosevelt sought to assist the nation's economic recovery during the
Great Depression. It enabled American garment maker's to move
through the decade unencumbered by restraints. Alas, it wasn't
without it's critics and by 1935 the blue label with the white eagle
was, quote the Raven, "nevermore." For more on the NRA, click on
the link at left.
Left: Circa 1934
Notwithstanding the knock-offs, most floor-length, late
1930s wedding gowns usually had an
look to them and this silhouette lasted until 1939, when
Mitchell's epic Gone with the Wind
created a period craze for full skirted
As in the 20's, close fitting
were still the rage, but they became more sophisticated
and sleek, hugging the head and matching the slimness of the silk bias
silhouette. Wax blossoms were still highly regarded and most brides
incorporated them into the headpiece or as a corsage placed onto the
dress. The cap headpiece and silk tulle veil shown above was created with
strips of satin cut on the bias, criss-crossed in a lattice pattern and
sewn together with a glass bead center, creating a wonderful flower
Since she had been
divorced, Wallis Simpson's
Mainbocher Wedding Dress was blue...
featured a story on the
Mainbocher blue wedding dress of the divorced Mrs. Wallis,
who married the Duke of Windsor in 1937. The original $250.00 dress
had been appreciated by Americans as the height of style and was quickly
off" arriving June 13th at
Bonwit Teller on Fifth Avenue in a
short sleeve version for $25.00. In less than two months it was at
the Lord & Taylor Department store for $16.95. A week later the famous "Wally"
dress could be purchased in Klein's Cash and Carry for $8.90. Mind
you, a top of the line pocketbook sold for .94 cents and the average
American earned $1,000 annually.