Dress Code: Art Nouveau – Extending its History of Fashion Exhibition


Ráth György villa – Budapest

The exhibition, which opened on June, 26, 2021 extends its fashion history exhibition Dress Code: Art Nouveau until September, 12, 2021 in view of the great interest

The exhibition provides an insight into the wardrobe and lifestyle of a woman living at the turn of the century with the help of a collection of objects selected from the Textile and Wear Collection of the Museum of Applied Arts. Presenting contemporary clothing and accessories – fans, bags and umbrellas – we recall the new, airy female ideal of Art Nouveau, for whom not only the outer rail but also the inner ring has become particularly important.

Art Nouveau simultaneously closed the gorgeous wear of the 19th century and launched the rational, functionalist fashion of the 20th century. Until the outbreak of World War I, women’s wear became more and more relaxed and comfortable, as the active lifestyle, work and sports provided by everyday life already required simpler and more comfortable clothing. The exhibition showcases casual and sporty daytime and glittery nightwear.

The Art Nouveau fashion line dates back to 1899, when a new type of corset conjured a “eel-like” S-line silhouette for the ladies. The eccentric look was completed by a whimsical shoulder-to-shoulder boa, loose, wavy hair, a Japanese neck-twisted bun, and a huge, heavy hat.

From the 1880s onwards, with the proliferation of machine products, there was a need to revive traditional handicrafts, create an imitation-free art, and recreate lace art. The Halasi sewn lace, designed by Árpád Dékáni in 1902, was the only one that used a unique, new technique and, with its treasure of motifs from folk art, was at the same time organically connected to the art of European Art Nouveau. The exhibition holds among other things, the fan designed by Árpád Dékáni, who won first prize in the 1903 Water Drop Society’s competition.

Families and ladies expressed their social status, wealth, and rank through their clothes and jewelry. And at various events and social events, special attention had to be paid to the perfect appearance. An essential accessory for women’s fashion was elbow-length gloves, jewelery made of precious stones, and a headdress adorning a gorgeous prom hairstyle. However, we must not forget about the dance orders and the fans, which could not have been missing from the props of the ballad ladies either, so also from the exhibition.

In addition to festive events, sports have also become fashionable and have become an important area of ​​social life. Ice skating, for example, was seen as a less ceremonial version of balling, as on such occasions, men and women were able to meet and talk casually. Similarly, bathing – although bathing and swimming were segregated by gender – was also defined by social life and joint activity.

In addition to the garments used in sports, more comfortable and functional wear has become widespread in everyday life, for example, the use of blouses and skirts has become decisive. The university education of women and the establishment of women’s grammar schools were proposed by Gyula Wlassics (1852-1937) in 1895 by the Minister of Religion and Public Education. The participation of women in secondary and higher education, which at first hardly affected women en masse, became possible from the autumn of 1896.

Update Aggie Reiter

%d bloggers like this: