1920s egyptian revival


Welcome back to FRIDAY FASHION FACT! Fact one: I love fashion revivals. They are flat-out my favorite part about fashion history. I find it so interesting to discover why one time and culture appealed to the people in another era so much. Sometimes it is something deep and sociological, and sometimes it’s just something simple, straight forward, and fun. Which brings us to today’s topic!

People have been attracted to ancient Egypt for centuries, and understandably so. It was a powerful civilization with unique arts and architecture. And of course, the fact that it is so ancient fills it with mystery. Egyptian influence began to creep into decorative arts in the 18th century, when Egypt became the hot spot for European explorers. They commonly brought back antiquities, which were then emulated by European artisans. When Napoleon came into power, he launched a campaign in Egypt geared at strengthening and extending his empire. This led to full on Egyptomania, with Egyptian influence moving beyond just the decorative arts, and into architecture.

Throughout the 19th Century, Egyptian influence never fully faded from arts and architecture, but it rarely made its way into fashion. In the 1920s, though, that all changed nearly overnight. In November of 1922, Howard Carter and his team discovered King Tut’s tomb. It contained gold and riches beyond anything anyone could have imagined. The frenzy was instantaneous. Across the globe, reports of the splendors were all anyone could talk about. For the next several years, thousands of relics were excavated. They were detailed in countless newspapers and magazines, then immediately replicated in arts, architecture, and fashion. Egyptomania had returned with full force.

Often times, the influence was very subtle. The crisp lines and geometric patterns common in Egyptian styles blended perfectly with the Art Deco trend which had been steadily on the rise since about the end of World War I. Yet it was not uncommon for Egyptian imagery to be directly recreated in fashion. Hieroglyphs would be printed onto gloves and parasols, delicate bead work trimmed evening gowns, and elaborate jewelry imitated that found in the tomb.

The obsession faded by the end of the 1920s, once the novelty of the uncovered antiquities had faded. Yet the interest in Egypt never fully went away, its influence still makes its way into fashion every few years.

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Kittyinva: 1920′s Egyptian Revival purse of silk faille with scarab tinsel embroidery in silver and gold threads. Large emerald cut citrine paste and clear stones set into frame. Imported from France to a NYC store. 7x7″, 15″ chain. From Vintage Luxury.