Graphics, geometric lines and abstract shapes can remind you of two things simultaneously – a high school mathematics class and the Art Deco period from the early 1930s.

It was a time in fashion when inanimate objects started influencing textile workers. Today, designers thrive through that system of getting their inspiration from arts and architecture. Call it a movement of frivolity and hopefulness or a step forward from the Jazz-age of the 1920s; Art Deco has reappeared on the 2012 fashion map.

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The Art Deco movement

The fashion clan knew exactly what they wanted after the end of World War I in the 1920s – being technologically advanced and giving birth to a ‘new woman’ in America. The rise of hedonism during the flapper period and living in the machine age was the way to live for the entirety of the decade.

But as the bobbed haircut, long-waisted dresses, V-necklines and ostrich features gained social acceptance, the erotic idea of androgyny also made ample amount of noise. By the end of the twenties, America had undergone dramatic social changes, resulting in another leap at the start of the 1930s.

So what really happened? The dawn of the Art Deco Movement happened.

art deco carolina herrera
Art Deco lines at Carolina Herrera SS12

Take it this way; what we call modern now, was considered even more ‘modernist,’ back in 1930s. Or consider Art Deco as a period when European designs and ideologies exploded in America. Everything became contemporary and arty, but devoid of frills and intricate detailing from the previous decade. The fashion scene was less democratic and visually more independent.

Art Deco in the 20s/30s

The craze of Paris and its romanticism lured with it the major Deco-themed design movement. Everything in Paris, from furniture, architecture, jewellery, interiors, cutlery and even paintings, were inspired by the eclecticism of the Art Deco period.

The silhouette remained similar to the one from the Gatsby period, however the feathered opulence was replaced with geometric lines and shapes. Bright colours aimed to wake everyone from the economy’s misery. Art Deco’s period still flirted with the 20s, yet maintained its own identity.

This, of course, changed as the trends changed over time and the once-modern Deco-ism resorted to history.

Art Deco fashion in 2012

Back in 2008, when the trend made a comeback, we highlighted elements that we thought would weigh heavy on the fashion memo. Marc Jacobs brought 1940s power dressing into play with bright block prints, also the oriental influences with gold hues oozed out sophistication.

Art Deco fashion revival
Art Deco fashion in 2008

The rebirth of Art Deco in 2012 is even more different.

The Gucci spring 2012 show saw the silhouette as a fusion of 1920s-flapper and 1940s-strictness but with prints drawn from the Deco-period. Frida Giannini experimented with three decades and yet presented a modern, abstract and visually appealing collection. The geometric lines on tuxedos clashed with the shimmery decadence of straight-cut dresses. The luxurious colours and pieces proved that for a trend to revisit the fashion scene, it has to be more powerful than just a glittery flash-forward.

art deco gucci dress
From Gucci’s ‘Hard Deco’ SS12 collection

Other designers like Etro played with bold Deco-inspired prints, while the likes of Carolina Herrera married geometric shapes with both masculine tailoring and floor-length gowns.

Art Deco fashion: how to wear it now

For the coming spring/summer season, Art Deco can act as inspiration for your wardrobe in numerous ways, depending on how you want to translate the trend for yourself.

  • If you want to bring some Gatsby into Deco-ism, then look at Gucci for inspiration. Wear feathers, fringing, beads and shimmer on a sleek silhouette.
  • Keep the geometry neat. Even though the trend screams for you to take risks with lines and shapes, going minimalist, yet with an impact, is the secret code.
  • An athletic twist would be to mix-and-match bold colours in the same outfit, but with a sixties twist. Try architectural midi-length skirt with a loose, tucked-in V-neck top.
  • If you want to show a hint of skin, opt for something with a draping backless cut, or fringing that shimmers aside as you move. Bias-cut gowns in silk or satin offer a Deco-era elegance.
  • If you’re keeping the outfit clean, play with Deco-inspired accessories, such as a tasseled clutches in bold colours or chunky jewellery. But remember, this season is more about exhibiting the Art Deco period via clothes than jewellery. Go bold with solid metal pieces.
  • Wear wide-legged pants with a short tuxedo jacket but clash with gold or silver belt or clutch. Pick pieces that remind you of Cleopatra, a Parisian princess or a geometry lesson.
  • With the colour palette, there are no strict rules to abide by. But from what’s seen on the spring 2012 runway, emerald green, gold, zebra stripes, cobalt blue and mustard will keep you in the safe zone.

art deco gown
From Carolina Herrera SS12

For more visual inspiration of Art Deco style on the runways, visit the gallery above.

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