Part Four: Depression and Post-War Era
The wave of hope brought forward by the art movements was greatly diminished by the worldwide economic downturn known as “The Great Depression.” The depression began in the US after the stock crash in 1929, which sent economic shock-waves throughout the world, lasted about a decade, and preceded the “War of all Wars.”
These tragic circumstances had a great influence on all aspects of society including fashion, design, and commerce. Out of necessity, this became a time of prudence and resourcefulness: fashions became modest and household items were practical. Everyone sought to conserve resources first out of need, and later as a way to contribute to the war effort. A perfect example of this era’s frugality can be seen in the abundance of girls’ dresses made out of feed sacks. The trend was fueled when manufacturers, realizing the housewives’ thriftiness, started producing sacks with small floral and other prints. (Photo Credit: Country Woman Magazine, girls wearing feed-sack dresses)
A popular household item of the depression, which also came indirectly from the food industry, was pressed colored glass later known as “Depression Glass.” Companies, such as Quaker Oats, began putting small pieces of glassware inside boxes of oats to increase sales. Depression glass came in many colors and patterns. Some popular colors were pink, blue, and green:
When the war ended, the mood of the nation quickly turned from depression to victory. Soldiers returned with strengthened love for home and family; and advanced manufacturing, developed during war-time, prompted new economic opportunity. We see this new outlook displayed in full color in magazine ads such as this one offered at Mamie Z Vintage.
The conservation of the last 15 years ends and makes way to color and light in both fashion and home décor: dark sturdy woods are replaced with painted woods and bright plastic; small flour-sack prints are replaced with large bold patterns; and drab brown, grey, and blues are replaced with white, gold, and the wildly popular pink! In this Post-War Era, the “American Dream” is renewed and promoted with unprecedented elegance in Hollywood. Movies focused on romance, adventure, and glam and Hollywood reached the height of its “Golden Age.” Going to the movies became more than a way to get war-news; it was a simple luxury and a venue to discover new trends. A most popular design trend, later named “Hollywood Regency,” begins to leave the sets of Hollywood and makes its way into “modern” homes.
These new trends influenced the Modern Movement, lasting into the 1960’s, which we shall explore next time!
This is fourth of a five part series on Design Styles written by Mary of FineRomance on Etsy.