A Passion for Fashion - Madame Clapham Revisited

Indigo Evening Dress (1929)

A translucent fabric called chiffon has been used to make this dress. The dress has a matching navy blue slip underneath to stop people from being able to see through it. Because chiffon is so light, it is the perfect fabric for the floaty frills attached to the dress. There are frills attached to the skirt and to the matching bolero, which was worn to cover up the lady’s shoulders.


The First World War and fashion

The First World War had a dramatic effect on Madame Clapham’s business. Ladies swapped their evening dresses for more practical voluntary service uniforms, resulting in declining demand for Madame Clapham’s fashionable outfits. Attitudes and social codes changed after the war, with women gaining the vote and greater numbers of them embarking on further education and careers. Young women began to reject the former restrictions of society and this was reflected in the fashions they wore.


Madame Clapham’s extravagant feminine designs became less popular as young women adopted the new shorter, straighter fashions of the 1920s. The 1920s look required less material. Layers of lining, long trains and elaborate bodices were abandoned for a simpler and freer style.

Click through to the next page to see more of Madame Clapham's designs or view the image gallery.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Hands-on History Museum, Hull | 
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