June 2 through September 1, 2019

Rodale Gallery

In Deco After Dark, vintage evening gowns’ glittering surfaces and refined silhouettes provide a feast for the eyes—but also highlight a transformative era in design.

Breaking with decades of stiff, complicated clothing, women of the 1920s and 1930s embraced a sleek, streamlined look. This sartorial shift was particularly evident in evening wear, which found new ways to express formality. Gowns that featured luxurious yet lightweight material, pared down cuts, and geometric decoration mirrored the simple elegance of Art Deco. Offering new freedom of movement and challenging established ideas about feminine appearance and behavior, these modern styles marked an era of social change.

Featured photo: Dress, 1920s, silk, sequins, beads. Gift of Susan Opie, 2008. (2008.21.20a); Hattie Carnegie (American, 1889-1956), Dress, late 1930s, lamé and wool, beads. Transferred from American Textile History Museum, gift of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, 2017. (2017.6.137a-c)

Deco After Dark is supported through the generosity of Mrs. Eleanor P. Laubner.