High Class of Art Deco at St. Francis U.

By Eric Olson

September 14, 2012 Updated Sep 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)-It happened during the Roaring ‘20’s, an explosion in creativity that produced our most beautiful architecture , our most beautiful machines, most beautiful furniture and, most beautiful fashion…known as Art Deco, it was an artistic awakening that inspires us still nearly a century after it began.

The world of Art Deco fashion takes center stage in a remarkable exhibit titled ‘Fashionable Art: Apparel from the 1920’s and 1930’s’ at the University of St. Francis’ Weatherhead Gallery, the centerpiece of which are 32 historic gowns that represent the era and the forces that created it.

“Before the 1920’s you have corseting, you have enormous petticoats you have layers and layers of clothing that women are bundled into,” says art historian Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf. “With the 1920’s you see this enormous explosion of rejection of that.”

World War One had just ended, the suffocating Edwardian Era along with it. A women’s right to vote was recognized, all fueling a hunger to put the dismal past behind. And in 1922, half a world away, King Tut’s tomb was discovered along with all that fabulous Egyptian artwork.

“That opened people’s eyes to the whole world of palate possibilities design possibilities,” says Kuebler-Wolf.

Egyptian influence is readily apparent in this black net dress from the mid 1920’s, and the beads, sequins and embroidery in this silk dress from the late ‘20’s. In the ‘30’s dress design stressed form fitting elegance, less adornment..a graceful beauty destined to be smothered by the outbreak of World War Two and the fashion vacuum of the 1940’s and ‘50’s. But Art Deco is an era still to be enjoyed, still to be admired and, luckily still able to inspire…in the early decades of a brand new century. Eric Olson reporting out in Your Country.

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