Fashion and Slovak Folk Dress

In researching the examples of Slovak folk dress for our upcoming exhibit, RESIST, I followed a tangent that led me to discover this article in an issue of Gazette du Bon Ton from 1920.

This fashionable publication takes a look at the folk costumes of central Europe just as the peace treaty ending World War I, radically altered the poltical landscape of the area.

We traveled to Romania last year. Transylvania, Banat and Torontal soon had no more secrets for us. We were there on a mission, like everyone; and if the Peace Conference did not take into account the serious observations that we reported from this journey, well then, that is not our fault. Coming back from these distant lands, we told ourselves that it would have been better to send a modiste than dipomats: they would at least have sent back some very pretty ideas for our beautiful ladies.

The tone of this article is characteristic of the Gazette – it is flippant and irreverent. It does directly relate the fascination with traditional embroidery and motifs with the cataclysmic changes that had just broken apart the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Here is a closer look at a detail of one of the pages. This image clearly shows the way the artist adapted the folk motifs according to his 1920s aesthetics.

The illustration in Gazette du Bon Ton draws inspiration the blue and white indigo patterning of Slovak printed fabrics. The bold contrast of primary colors and the sharp pleats are clearly evoked in the image. Here is an example of an actual Slovak costume that the author finds so charming.

Sara Hume, Curator

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