Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery
Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history
Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history Poverty Bay - taonga maori
Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery

Exhibitions & Galleries

Dresses for Special Occasions

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

About The Curator

Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history

Poverty Bay - taonga maori

During the 1920s, there was a major upheaval in fashion and style. This was led by the flappers, who emerged in the wake of WWI. They behaved outside of established convention in a way considered shocking at the time: smoking in public, showing their knees, bobbing their hair and dancing wildly to the Charleston. Flapper fashion required a flattened, boyish figure, perhaps symbolic of a newfound desire for equality with men. While the waistline dropped to the hips, hemlines rose until they hovered about the knee. Accessories were long beaded necklaces, French-heeled shoes and bell-shaped cloche hats. Flappers reigned supreme until the stockmarket crash of October 1929 made their carefree lifestyles unsustainable.

Natural fibres such as silk and cotton were most common, though satin and rayon (artificial silk) were also available. The development of bias-cutting fabric during this decade allowed clothing to sit beautifully against the body.

Click on the dresses for larger images and information

              
Flapper Dress                Evening Dress                Beach Pyjamas