1920s Egyptian Revival Fashion

Although not the first time in history when the west was consumed with all things Egyptian, it was the 1920s where this love of Egyptian history was most intense.

It all has to do with the discovery of King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings. In 1922, Howard Carter entered the interior chambers of the tomb.

King Tut's tomb contained some of the most complete examples of ancient Egyptian style. Of course the most incredible thing found was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, which was made out of solid gold, was the mummy of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for more than 3,000 years. This 'find' was to become a ‘movement’ within the world or art, fashion, and architecture as the images of the artifacts swept the world.

The American fashion shows of 1923 in were filled with Egyptian inspired garments. Silk merchants saw a typically slow period improve. Silk company Cheney Brothers sent one of their designers to Egypt for inspiration, and designers from other companies went to the Metropolitan Museum for ideas.

The 1925, International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris featured clothes that used Egyptian patterns to influence geometric shapes and simple, basic lines. Colors came in shades like Nile green. There were ancient Egyptian patterns on handbags, cigarette holders, and jewelry. Images of sphinxes, lotuses, camels, and palm trees could be found in stores across the country. Fashionable women wore headpieces.

Scarab-shaped jewelry mimicked Egyptian jewelry, and the trend influenced jewelers like Boivin, Lalique, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany, and Cartier. Cartier used striking, bright precious and semi-precious stones like emeralds and lapis lazuli on some of its designs. (courtesy History Masquerade)

Of course the designs of the day were not necessarily historically accurate, but that didn’t matter and it became one of the most easily recognizable periods of the 20th Century.

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Daye is an avid collector and researcher of all things vintage.

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