Friday, September 11, 2009


by Polly Guerin, Fashion Historian

For me it's all about the fashions, the sequined, shimmy-fringed chemises ready to Charleston, and frivolous characters like the flappers wearing cloche hats and pearl necklaces dropping to their knees, drinking, driving and partying, and it's also about the social life as pictured in F. Scott Fizgerald's novel, THE GREAT GATSBY.
        It's about women like Tamara de Lempika the famed Art Deco artist, chicly helmeted her gloved hand on the steering wheel driving her green Bugatti, representing the new breed of independent woman racing into the future. It's about the swank salon interiors, mirrored, black lacquer furniture, and an elegant white piano upon a black and white checkaboard floor ready for the cocktail hour.  It's the first era of modernism launched by the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes which gave us the term, ART DECO, that represented streamline modernity.
        The recent film, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," depicts this era with authenticity from the fashions, millinery and accessories to the interiors and the soignee personalities of the era. A revealing lingerie fashion show scene gives you an insider's view of what the ladies wore underneath it all. Well worth your while to pick up a CD at Barnes & Noble and consider this era for your next historical novel.

BIO:  Polly is on the board of the Art Deco Society of New York, and recently lectured on the subject at the l0th World Congress on Art Deco in Montreal in May. She is also a vice president of the Romance Writers of America / New York City chapter.  Visit her at


  1. Polly, you are correct, the 20s and 30s are worthy of a romance novel of their own -- the fashions, the music, the dangerous men. Lots of story lines come to mind. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. You evoke the essence of the era very well, Polly. I'll have to add "Miss Pettigrew" to my Netflix list!


  3. The 20's and 30's were indeed a time of romance. My grandparents grew up during this time. Looking through old pictures at the clothing, cars brings back such wonderful times with my grandmother talking about the "Old Days".

    Lovely post Polly!

  4. How marvelously you conjure up the atmosphere of the era, Polly! I could practically hear the whisper of the guest begging entrance at her favorite speakeasy - dressed to the nines, of course!

  5. Polly, you had me at Tamara de Lempicka! I love this era myself, the style, the literature. Thank you for reminding me I want to see Miss Pettigrew...

  6. Dear Fidencia/Maria/Lise/Karen: Thank you for reading my posting and your comments are very much appreciated. Polly