Tag Archives: 1920s colors

The Twenties in Color

Ad for Kellogg's Pep Cereal, Delineator, April

Ad for Kellogg’s Pep Cereal, Delineator, April 1927.

As much as I love watching old black and white movies, I’ve always enjoyed reading vintage magazines because of their colorful advertisements.

From an ad for Mazola corn oil, Delineator, June 1927.

Colorful evening dress from an ad for Mazola corn oil, Delineator, June 1927.

It’s hard not to think of the 1920’s and 1930’s as “black and white,” because they were usually photographed in black and white, but the people who lived then did not see their world that way.

A colorful world in an ad for Durkee's salad dressing. Delineator, JUne 1928.

A colorful world in an ad for Durkee’s salad dressing. Delineator, June 1928.

I first embarked on my exploration of vintage Delineator magazines when I discovered over 400 bound copies in storage at my public library. Since I am really interested in everyday fashions, I would have preferred a stack of old McCall’s Magazines, but so many old fashion magazines have been converted to black and white microfilm that I’m happy to have found any bound periodicals in color.

"How do you like your coffee?" A family eating breakfast, Delineator, May 1927. Advertisement for Borden's condensed milk.

“How do you like your coffee?” A family eating breakfast, Delineator, May 1927. Advertisement for Borden’s condensed milk.

Back in 1980, I found a bound volume of Delineator, January to June of 1925, at a library book sale. It had formerly been in the research library at Columbia Studios. I intended to sell it a few years ago, but when I really examined it I was amazed by the number of full color fashion illustrations, so I kept it. As it turns out, 1925 and 1926 were the last years when Delineator printed so many pages in full color.

This amazing shawl is not a fashion illustration, but a soap advertisement from 1927:

This "Aztec" pattern hand painted shawl was made in the Samuel Russel Studio, New York, and illustrated by Katharine Stinger for an Ivory Soap Flakes ad. Delineator, March 1927.

This “Aztec” pattern painted shawl was made in the Samuel Russel Studio, New York, and illustrated by Katharine Stinger for an Ivory Soap Flakes ad. Delineator, March 1927.

As times got harder, The Delineator cut its cover price, decreased its size from large format to the size of a modern magazine, and eliminated color except for full page advertisements like these. By 1933, even ads were scarce, and the magazine was mostly black and white.

But, if you were alive in the nineteen twenties, this was the world you saw.

Woman golfer in an ad for Bromoquinine laxative. Delineator, April 1928.

Woman golfer in an ad for Bromoquinine laxative. Delineator, April 1928.

Casual clothing in an ad for Camel Cigarettes. Delineator, September 1928.

Casual clothing in an ad for Camel Cigarettes. Delineator, September 1928.

This woman washes her fine fabrics in Ivory Soap Flakes, Ad from Delineator, May 1927.

This woman washes her fine fabrics in Ivory Soap Flakes. Ad from Delineator, May 1927.

Ivory Flakes were also recommended for woolens:

Wash your woolen clothing in Ivory Flakes.... An ad from Delineator, October 1928.

Wash your wool clothing in Ivory Flakes…. An ad from Delineator, October 1928. Notice her stockings, which match her suit.

The text at the left tells the story of Biltmore Industries of North Carolina, preserving the craft of hand weaving; “In order to protect the sensitive woolen fibre, we allow no cleaning substance other than Ivory to touch it.”

From an ad for Puffed Wheat cereal, August 1928.

From an ad for Puffed Wheat cereal, August 1928.

That red and blue outfit would look much more sedate in black and white:

The same puffed wheat ad in grayscale.

The same puffed wheat ad converted to  grayscale. 1928 ad.

Even ads for household appliances can be illuminating:

A cheery interior in an ad for Johnson's Paste Wax. March, 1928.

A cheerful and expensive interior in an ad for Johnson’s Paste Wax. March, 1928.

Lavish interiors in silent movies always look dark and heavy — but they were not really black and white.

This woman may have gotten a little too colorful — but it’s an ad for Valspar paint, with “before” and “after” images:

Kitchen colors in an ad for Valspar paint. October, 1928.

“She thought she had a model kitchen, but ….” Kitchen colors in an ad for Valspar paint. October, 1928.

An up-to-date kitchen, October 1928 ad for Valspar paint. Delineator.

An up-to-date kitchen, October 1928 ad for Valspar paint. Delineator. Note the pink sink.

A white kitchen transformed. Valspar paint ad, October 1928.

A white kitchen “modernized” with color. Valspar paint ad, October 1928.

Although the sink appears white in the second illustration, pink sinks were available. This bold yellow and black dress — from an ad for window shades — would be drained of its power in a 1920’s photograph:

"Restful Rooms" thanks to window shades, in an ad from March, 1928. Delineator.

“Restful Rooms” thanks to window shades, in an ad from March, 1928. Delineator.

A lovely rose colored dress in an ad for Feen-a-Mint laxative. March 1927.

A lovely rose-colored dress in an ad for Feen-a-Mint laxative. March 1927.

"Grandmother is still dancing," thanks to Feen-a-Mint. Detail of ad from Delineator, May 1927.

“Grandmother is still dancing,” thanks to Feen-a-Mint. Detail of ad from Delineator, May 1927. Grandmother is wearing a flattering, not-black (!) gown.

Grandmother's secret: Feen-a-Mint. Ad, May 1927.

Grandmother’s secret: Feen-a-Mint. Ad, May 1927.

Digression: There was a time in the 1980’s when directors of Shakespeare’s comedies thought it amusing to costume them completely in black and white and gray to evoke old movies. These black and white “silent movie”/”Fred and Ginger” productions quickly became so commonplace that they signaled “desperate director.” After sitting through one-too-many of these productions, I was delighted to discover that the first English play to be costumed entirely in black and white was A Game at Chess, by Thomas Middleton. It played at The Globe theatre in London in 1625 — long before black and white movie film was invented. It was quite a novel idea.

 

 

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

Introducing the Winter Mode, by Madeleine Vionnet, 1927

Introducing the Winter Mode, an Article by Madeleine Vionnet1927 nov p 27 Vionnet 500 dpi writes article 1749 1653

This brief article in The Delineator, published in November, 1927, page 27, is ostensibly written by the couturier Madeleine Vionnet. It may actually be the report of a translated interview; The Delineator also published an article “by Captain Molyneux” in the same series, but I have not yet photographed it. The curvature of the page of the bound volume makes the pattern descriptions at the sides hard to read, so I will transcribe them; they are not written by Vionnet, but are editorial comments on the winter modes and are illustrated by two Butterick patterns, not necessarily Vionnet designs. (The Delineator was published by the Butterick Publishing Company.)  You can read the article — the center column — exactly as printed:

Vionnet Headline and Introduction1927 nov p 27 Vionnet title“Madeleine Vionnet, the famous Paris dressmaker was the first designer to make the unlined frock, discarding the hooks and bones of the tight lining. The famous Vionnet V’s of her modernistic cut made intricate line immensely more important than obvious trimming. Vionnet’s versions of flares and fagoting and bias cuts imbue the basic principles of the new mode with a supreme distinction, an ageless quality, the results of Mme. Vionnet’s own philosophy of dress.”

Vionnet’s Article from 1927

1927 nov p 27 adj Vionnet top

1927 nov p 27 adj Vionnet ctr top1927 nov p 27 adj Vionnet ctr btm1927 nov p 27 adj Vionnet btmElegant Evening Dress, Winter 1927

Butterick dress pattern # 1749 and Evening Coat pattern # 1653, November 1927, Delineator

Butterick dress pattern # 1749 and Evening Coat pattern # 1653, November 1927, Delineator, page 27

Under the dress on the left, the text says,

1749 dress alone

” 1749 – Concerning the evening mode there is no supposition for all its ways are well established. It is a fashion of supreme elegance, of great formality and dignity. Is very feminine in appearance, brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed. In general the smart evening frock is both long and short due to an erratic hemline which is high in some places and low in others, jagged with points of drapery or elliptical as in the bouffant dresses where the longer line rounds down in back. The decolletage of the season is the low cut oval. This is new and flattering but V and square lines are continued and the latter is particularly distinguished when held by jewelled shoulder straps. Jewels are, in fact, very much a part of all evening dress. White frocks and black frocks depend on them for relief, and not only are there necklaces, bracelets and belt and shoulder touches, but dresses area embroidered with jewels, notably in necklace lines. There is much drapery in the mode, mostly with a left-side tendency, and skirts flare, some of them in most original ways.

“The front flare of the frock above (Design 1749) rises diagonally in a scalloped outline and a wing of drapery breaks the hem. For size 36, 3 1/8 yards 35-inch all-over lace. Designed for sizes 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years) and 36 to 44.”

Evening Wraps: White, Black, and Pastel1653 coat alone

Under the coat on the right, the text says,”1653 – As to the evening wrap, it is very smart to match it to the frock, but if the wrap matches one of the frocks of the wardrobe and harmonizes with the others, that is quite in good style and very much less extravagant as the means one wrap instead of a series of them. White is, and has been for two seasons, the first color for evening, its continued vogue explained by the fact that a white frock and sun-bronzed skin is an intriguing combination.  All black, relieved by rhinestones on the frock and by ermine on the wrap, follows white in the scale of evening colors, after which come pastel shades, used so much by Vionnet.  Gray and yellow are sometimes seen and are interesting because they are new.  The evening frock this season is made of transparent velvet, metallic fabrics, Georgette, chiffon, lace, flowered or gauze lamé or tulle – tulle with a gold dot is new. The evening wrap may be a coat or cape of fur, velvet, metallic fabric or brocade. The little evening jackets that are so useful in chilly rooms, or as a means of turning an evening gown into one for afternoon, are of the fabric of the frock.

“The coat illustrated (Design 1653) has a flare across the front with the ripples thrown to the left. For size 36, 4 yards of 39-inch velvet and 2/3 yard of 9-inch fur for binding are required. Designed for sizes 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years) and 36 to 44 [bust measurement.]”

TAGS

1 Comment

Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns