1920s Jazz Age: Fashion & Photographs, American Museum in Britain, Bath

18 March 2017 – 29 October 2017

Fitzgerald fanatics will be fascinated by this display of more than 100 fashion objects and photographs, documenting a decade of intense change in the US after the First World War.

Examining how the world viewed – and views – America as a global taste-maker, 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion & Photographs offers a visual guide to a period of post-war excess and emancipation. 

Though the iconic flapper dress has become emblematic of the time, and is of course well represented in this exhibition, a number of other trends are also on show, from evening capes to lame coats and ready-to-wear garments spanning 1919 to 1929. 

But clothes are only half the story; some of the period’s most iconic faces tell more of it, captured here by photographer James Abbe, whose portraits of stage and screen stars such as Gilda Gray, the Dolly Sisters and Louise Brooks paid witness to the dawn of modern-day celebrity. Many of Abbe’s sitters had connections with Beatrice Pratt, the mother of one of the American Museum in Britain’s founders, and items from the museum’s archives look at Pratt’s role as a fashionista in the early 20th century.

The exhibition also includes illustrations by Gordon Conway, whose work often appeared in Vanity Fair, demonstrating how certain graphic styles and photography defined the 'Jazz Age' look.