iv. The Influence of Jazz
Not surprisingly, the music that gave its name to the decade, The Jazz Age, had a major impact on the fashions of the decade. Ragning from the dancing it encouraged to the popularity of African culture in general, jazz had a hand in a number of the major aspects of flapper wear.
With jazz music came a revolution in dance. Dances for jazz music such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom Stomp were very energetic, something that the fashion of the Edwardian period would not accommodate. In order for the body to be able to dance to jazz, short bobs replaced piled high hair, and , in order to allow more movement with the limbs, skirts were shortened and sleeves thrown away (Hannel 58). Embellishments were further added in order to enhance the fisual and audible experience of dancing. Fringe with beading, when in motion, added to the percussive sounds of jazz music and shiny fabrics were used to reflect light to the beat of the music (Hannel 65). Further, the clothes worn to these nightclub cabarets reflected their more relaxed atmosphere (Hannel 66) in comparison to the clubs of the Victorian era which enforced strict rules of etiquette and behavior (Perkin 98). The patterns on fabrics also reflected the "wildly rhythmic and spontaneous qualities of jazz" (Hannel 70).
Jazz further held its sway in American fashion through its intoxication of France. In America, France monopolized the clothing market (Latham 165). From the influence of such French fashion designers as Paul Poiret and Coco Channel (Latham 33), to the Paris Imitations of department stores (Miller, Brandon Marie 62), French influence dominated '20s styles. The French themselves, however, were dominated by the influence of jazz and African culture in general. First, France embraced jazz music whose complete, unheard newness served as rebellion from the war of the previous decade (Hannel 60). Then came the obsession with African culture itself. After the devastation of World War One, France became disgusted with the European culture that had allowed it to happen. Along with their disgust of European culutre and its corruption, they began to look upon African culture as exotic and having the uncorrupted history of the "'noble savage'" (Hannel 60). With this new love for Africa, France began to incorporate certain aspects of its culture into clothes, such as "slave jewelry" and fringe which imitated grass skirts (Hannel 57). These styles then, inevitably, found their way to America.