Designing Women: Cinema, Art Deco, and the Female Form

By Lucy Fischer | Go to book overview

3. DESIGN FOR LIVING
Marketing Art Deco to Women

Beyond selling women on the joys of department store shopping, Art Deco packaging and advertising advanced a host of specific products for women which ranged from those associated with her person (cosmetics, jewelry, and clothing) to those tied to her home (housewares, appliances, and furniture.) Again, it was in the pages of women's magazines and catalogues of the period (both before and after the stock market crash) that this discourse of consumerism and material culture was articulated. While, clearly, the most avant-garde and expensive objects sold were aimed at the upper-and middle-class urban female shopper (and advertised in such high-toned publications as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar), wide circulation of the Sears catalogue made it possible for a broad range of American women to acquire a degree of modishness. As Kenneth Yellis notes:

Perusal of the Sears, Roebuck catalogues for the decade is very suggestive.
… These catalogues were, presumably, important to women in areas and
situations in which being strictly fashionable was not vital for their careers
or social acceptance, such as women on farms or in towns out of the reach
of the large urban department stores. But the styles in these catalogues …
were no more than three months behind what was readily available in New
York department stores. (1980:373)

Hence, a degree of egalitarianism reigned in the era's fashion system.

-61-

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