Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Art Deco: Angles and curves traveling at the speed of life

The decade of the 1920s, later known as the Art Deco era, was a defining line in fashion history. Frills, flourishes and the suffocating corset were left behind in haste to enter a new world influenced by automobiles, the radio, an eight hour work day and the right to vote. Women felt empowered and optimistic. 

Couture dress designs were translated into affordable, ready-to-wear fashions and replaced home sewing for the average woman. Stylish dresses went sleeveless, hemlines were shortened and waistlines dropped to the hip. Also popular and vampy was the revealing body-clinging, bias cut dress.  Jewelry was worn to soften and feminize one look and while accentuating the exotic heat of the other.  Chanel and Schiaparelli noted the relationship and both designers introduced “statement” jewelry to complement their apparel collections.  In explaining the importance of fashion jewelry, Chanel declared “It doesn’t matter if it looks real, as long as it is fake.” 

The “costume jewelry” industry exploded.  European workshops in Bohemia created glass stones, faceted and ornamented in a range of experimental styles and colors, from rhinestones to molded glass made to resemble jade. Production of synthetic stones in a consistent color palette and size range was begun by the young Bohemian glasscutter Daniel Swarovski. Exported to American jewelry factories, novelty jewels were used to embellish everything from bracelets to shoe clips.  In Japan, glassmakers formulated lustrous “indestructible pearls” which resulted in the fashion of wearing a long rope of faux pearls clutched together with a rhinestones pin. It was a swanky swinging necklace to wear in front and a daringly exotic accessory to wear down the back.

Sources inspiring jewelry design included the Paris International Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, the sets and costuming of the extravagant, colorful Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and fascination with the Orient. Traditional motifs were interpreted in highly stylized and graphic forms using art glass, enameling, pave set crystal, beads and cabochon cut stones. 

Art Deco design took form in geometric lines and symmetry. Graduating, expanding, overlapping and cascading shapes conveyed the appearance of movement and speed.  It expressed the era of industry and quickly advancing mechanization. Cars, skyscrapers, neon signs, chrome toasters and jewelry all exhibited streamline geometric design. The sleek stylism of shooting stars and neon arrows seemed to point the way to the next decade, humming along at the speed of life.


  1. Between the fabulous jewelry here, the glitz of Luhrmann's Gatsby, and some of the fantastic accessories my friends have had passed down from relatives, I think I'm swayed toward wanting to spend a day in the (late) 1920s. I'd not want to live there, but seeing such a historical era in person would be too good of an opportunity to pass up.


  2. With advent of 2020, a "New Era for Art Deco" will soon be approaching. I have already been planning to replicate the extravagance of "times past" through my fabulous personal collection of both crystal and enamel jewelry, clothing and hair accessories. I've always been drawn the sleek designs characteristic of that era. Personally, my dream would be to attend a lavish 1920's ballroom event and dance until dawn.


  3. I'm a graphic design professor and I'm sometimes called upon to teach art history. Art Nouveau and Art Deco are two of my favorite eras to discuss simply because the art was all-encompassing! Everything from fashion to furniture, advertising to architecture was touched by these movements despite how short-lived they were. I've often thought about how wonderful it would be to live in an era where beauty and craftsmanship were attached to every item. Artists seemed free to do anything they wanted - there were no rules! Sometimes I feel like the protagonist of Midnight in Paris. I will never be fully satisfied by the modern world and some part of me will always long for a time that was supposedly simpler, less chaotic, more creative. Luckily, I have these jewelry pieces to remind me of the beauty of those eras without sacrificing the benefits of today!

    Jasmine G.

  4. I'm often torn about the idea of living in the past. As a woman, I know I'd be giving up a lot of rights, and I'd also be living in an era without modern medicine - and air-conditioning!! But I do so love the clothing and especially the jewelry. Both of which I can enjoy as a costumer - while still living in the modern world. My favorite era is the late 18th century. In fact, the first thing I ever bought from Sweet Romance was a pair of earrings that were very Georgian in appearance. Someone posted a link, and I bought them, and I've shopped here ever since! I do love it with you do historically inspired jewelry. And 20s/30s is probably my next favorite era. So keep up the good work and cool historically inspired designs! :-)

  5. I'm not sure I'd want to permanently live in the 20's era but it would be cool to visit it and see all the fashions and styles. Also the people always look so different in old pictures, I'd love to try the makeup from back then and the clothing as well. I'd also love to visit the 70s just to go to a real disco and check out all the music and clothing styles from that decade as well

  6. I would love to be a flapper for a day. I love the loose beaded dress made from satin and silk. I would wear either ropes of pearls or strands of sparkling bead; but long and coming to my waist. I would wear a feather beaded hair ornament with a matching feather boa!

  7. I have been to see 'Cafe Society' in the cinema for the sole purpose of enjoying the view of gorgeous jewellery, haute couture and cars. I would love to live in the 1920s for one day. I remember my grandmother telling me how she went to dance the night away in the nightclubs of Berlin and then watch the sun rise over the city. Everything was wild, beautiful and alive. I love the style of Art Deco, it is where geometric lines merge with Art and Beauty.
    I am hoping to take take some of your beautiful jewellery to the Art Deco a Festival on the Queen Mary this summer ��.

  8. I would love to live in the 1920s for one day. I still remember my a Grandmother telling me how she used to dance the night away in the smoky clubs of Berlin in the late 1920 and then watched the sun rise over the roofs of the city. Everything was wild, vibrant and alive. People really wanted to live in the moment.
    I went to see Cafe Society for the sole purpose of catching a glimpse of the beauty of the bygone era and feast my eyes on beautiful jewellery, clothes and cars. Boy, how I wasn't disappointed ;-).
    In a few weeks, I am planning on taking some of your gorgeous jewelry to the Art Deco Festival on the Queen Mary :-).