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.
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.
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.
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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This is a fascinating example of one of the many items made during the Egypto-mania period of the 1920s after King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in 1922. The pierced sandalwood sticks and very finely crafted cut-out silver paper creating the frieze-like Art Deco decoration that moves across the fan leaf mark it as a Japanese-made object.
Cartier Art Deco Egyptian Revival Onyx, Diamond, Enamel, Sapphire, Platinum, and Gold Fan Brooch (1923) by Cartier, London - composed of an Egyptian glazed steatite plaque of semicircular shape, (c.600 B.C.) inscribed with hieroglyphs, inscription on reverse.