The 1930’s was an ironic period in the field of fashion. The depression called for women tailoring their old clothes, yet the middle of the decade brought an elegant, almost regal style to those who could afford it. The thirties graced us with legendary beauty icons, such as Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Josephine Baker and Vivien Leigh. This article offers short biographies of those 1930 fashion icons and briefly discusses how each one influenced women for generations to come.
Who among us hasn’t heard the famous “She’s got Bette Davis Eyes”? Miss Bette Davis was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on was born April 5, 1908 in Lowell, Massachusetts. The world mourned her passing on October 6, 1989 in France from cancer. When she first came on the scene, she was not viewed as a gorgeous glamorous star. Among a host of others, she actually stared in a movie entitled “Fashions of 1934” where she played “Lynn Mason” an assistant to a bootlegger selling Paris Fashions. It is said that her tombstone reads “She did it the hard way”. She started a wave of starlets that were not classically beautiful but still had that “something about them” The fashion world is forever indebted to the woman with those “teasing” eyes.
“Her hair is Harlow gold” How can we talk about Miss Davis’s eyes without mentioning the other legend that is attributed to in the famous song? She began the trend of “Blonde Bombshells” that is still going strong in Hollywood today. Born Harlean Carpenter on March 3, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri, she can be solely credited for starting the peroxide revolution with her platinum blonde locks. She was the first actress to appear on the cover of Life Magazine an though she passed away on June 7, 1937 at the young age of 26, there are over 35 movies that you can watch after you “Slip into something more comfortable”
Josephine Baker: Born, Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 3, 1906, Josephine Baker gainined fame throughout Europe during the 1920’s but wasn’t received well in the United States, even after two acclaimed movies in 1930’s, because of her dark skin color. During World War II, she performed for the troops, and smuggled secret messages written on her music sheets for the French Resistance in addition to being a sub-lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. This seemed to renew her strength and during the 1950’s and 1960’s she returned to the United States with a vengeance to help the fight against racism. She made such an impact that the “The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” (NAACP) observes May 20 as “Josephine Baker Day”. She passed away on April 12th, 1975. Her exotic beauty, and sensational clothing style made her an icon in the world of fashion but her heart and determination made her a legend to all.
“Scarlett was not beautiful but men seldom realized it when caught by her charmÃ¢Â?Â¦” at least according to the book. On screen the great Miss O’Hara shined in looks as well as charm. Vivien Leigh ended the decade regally with her piercing eyes and that arched eyebrow that models still continue to try and emulate today. Born Vivian Mary Hartley on November 5th 1913, she passed away died July 7th 1967 a still much beloved actress. Her icon status will forever be safe. Even in old drapes; no one could deny her exotic beauty. This may be where the phrase “It’s not the clothes that you wear, It’s how you wear the clothes” came from.
All of these women managed to convey glitz and glamour during a decade that was mostly known for depression. The Fashion Icons of the 1930’s had two things in common, each one had a trait that plunged them into legend status and they will forever be remembered as bringing life and beauty into a time where there had only been the opposite. They will be much needed in the decade to come, the war torn 1940’s.