In the years following World War I, design styles experienced numerous developments and transformations. The playful Art Moderne style that emerged in France and the geometric Modernism style that emerged in Germany both received international popularity between the 1920s and 1940s. These combined styles later became known as Art Deco. The design was often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. Historical influence referenced Egyptian themes following the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. Unlike the heavy organic motifs of the preceding Art Nouveau style, Art Deco combined traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials as a result of the rapid spread of industrialism. Historian Bevis Hillier defined the period as "an assertively modern style [that] ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material [and] the requirements of mass production."
The term Art Deco derived from the L'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderns exhibition held in Paris in 1925. The popularity of industrialism fueled the movement's early focus on functionalism with designs applicable to mass production. In America, architecture and the decorative arts were strongly influenced by Art Deco during this time. Parisian inspired decoration became the most readily identifiable style of the 1920s and remained prominent in America long after it was out of style in France. In women's fashion, jewelry lines became more streamlined and angular to complement changing dress silhouettes. They were defined by new forms, color combinations, and cuts of stones. Graphic design followed similar lines and was often influenced by the Plakatsil and Cubist styles with simplified silhouettes, geometric shapes, and typography.
The style of Art Deco represented the luxury, extravagance, and glamour of the Machine Age and growth of consumerism. In recent years, there have been repeated periods of revival as the style has been highlighted in graphics, film, and fashion. The 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby influenced numerous designers of evening wear including Versace, Badgley Mischka, J Mendel, and Ralph Lauren. Gown silhouettes were simplified and the details were formed with intricate beading, sequins, and geometric shapes. While the ease of the simple silhouettes evoked a sleek, contemporary feeling, the detail of the shapes and the luxury of the materials conjured a distinctly Art Deco mood. These architectural detail, linear jewelry, and graphical element inspirations were present throughout the 2012 and 2013 fashion weeks and continue to remain current today. Fitting for another turn of a new century, the revival of Art Deco serves as a luxurious reminder of the promise that industrial growth and progress can have on the arts and fashion.
Designer Inspiration: Haider Ackermann
Haider Ackermann is the Colombian-born, Belgian-trained, French designer who quickly became known for the sculptural beauty of his cropped leather jackets and seductively draped dresses. Born in Bogota, Colombia, Ackermann was adopted by a French couple who had already adopted two other children from Vietnam and South Korea. The family traveled to wherever Ackermann's father, a cartographer, was working and lived in Algeria, Chad, Ethiopia, and Iran, before settling in the Netherlands. Ackermann alter studied fashion in Belgium at Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts. His portfolio included work with other designers such as Bernhard Willhelm, Patrick Van Ommeslaeghe, and Mayerline as well as a five month internship at John Galliano.
Since launching his collection in 2002, Ackermann's career has received much success. In 2005, his label was acquired by the Belgian investment group BVBA 32 under chief executive Anne Chapelle. The group later split Ackermann's business into a separate entity from its other fashion holding, Ann Demeulemeester, in recognition of the label's growing prominence. Ackermann was elected as a guest designer at the influential Pitti Immagine showcase in Florence in 2011, where he also unveiled his first menswear collection to critical acclaim. Ackermann has been approached to head up several prominent design houses including Dior and Martin Margiela. He was also named by Karl Lagerfeld as the designer he would like to succeed him at Chanel.
Ackermann takes bohemian dressing to another level through the subliminal influence of his wanderings. "I never take pictures. I absorb things and try to remember them. If they stay in my mind, then it's meant to be," the designer says of his travels. His clothes identify with the person who wears them--unique and artistic--and conjure an image of someone sensual and mysterious. Masculine undertones are a signature of the Ackermann brand as he often plays between strength and fragility in his designs. "You love the idea that she would steal the clothes from her husband," he said, before correcting himself: "Her lover, not her husband." Some of his most successful reoccurring themes of design include Grecian draping, Islamic mosaic, and architectural structure. His inspiration? "The street," Ackermann said simply. "And elegance."