Flappers were a “new breed” of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.
Flappers had their origins in the liberal period of the Roaring Twenties, the social, political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of World War I, as well as the export of American jazz culture to Europe.
Zelda Fitzgerald was an American socialite and novelist, and the wife of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who dubbed her “the first American Flapper”. She and Scott became the emblem of the Jazz Age, for which they are still celebrated via
Clara Bow epitomized the Roaring Twenties’ flapper. At only 25, she retired exhausted by repeated scandals about her presumed sexual life. Photo: Bow in a shiny strapless dress by Eugene Robert Richee, 1926 via
Coleen Moore was Bow´s “chief rival”. After Bow took the stage Moore gradually lost her momentum. In spring 1924 she made a good, but unsuccessful effort to top Bow in The Perfect Flapper, and soon after she dismissed the whole flapper vogue. Photo: Coleen Moore in “Why Be Good?”, 1929 via
Louise Brooks 1920. She was an American dancer and actress noted as an iconic symbol of the flapper, and for popularizing the bobbed haircut via
Gilda Gray, 1924. She was an American actress and dancer who popularized a dance called the “shimmy” which became fashionable in 1920s films and theater productions via
Tallulah Brockman, 1922. Bankhead was an American actress of the stage and screen, and a reputed libertine britannica.com
Anita Loos was an American screenwriter, playwright and author, best known for her blockbuster comic novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes first published in 1925. It was one of several famous novels published that year that chronicled the so-called Jazz Age – including Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Photo: Loos, on page 12 of the April 1922 Photoplay via
Gloria Swanson in the Queen Kelly, 1929
Josephine baker´s Eton crop haircut
Louise Brooks short bobbed flapper hair
Marion Morehouse in Chanel. Photo by Edward Steichen, Vogue, 1926
Norma Shearer giving thanks for her amazing wardrobe collection in A Slave to Fashion, 1925
Bebe Daniels with a tiger, 1927
1920s icon Gilda Gray looking very glamorous
1920s girl with monocle
Washington, D.C., 1926. “National Hosiery Week. Erlebacher window, F Street.” Among the Blue Moon shades on display: Flesh, Blond, Peau, Orchid, Gravel and “Jenny.” National Photo Company Collection glass negative via
The Bright Young Things, or Bright Young People, was a nickname given by the tabloid press to a group of bohemian young aristocrats and socialites in 1920s London. They threw elaborate fancy dress parties, went on elaborate treasure hunts through nighttime London, drank heavily and used drugs—all of which was enthusiastically covered by journalists such as Tom Driberg.
They inspired a number of writers, including Nancy Mitford (Highland Fling), Anthony Powell (A Dance to the Music of Time), Henry Green (Party Going) and the poet John Betjeman (A Subaltern’s Love Song). Evelyn Waugh’s 1930 novel Vile Bodies, adapted as the 2003 film Bright Young Things, is a satirical look at this scene. Cecil Beaton began his career in photography by documenting this set, of which he was a member.
Bright Young Things by Cecil Beaton, October 1927; Rex Whistler, Cecil Beaton, Georgia Sitwell, William Walton, Stephen Tennant, Teresa Jungman and Zita Jungman via
Bright Young Things at Wilsford by Cecil Beaton, October 1927; William Walton, Cecil Beaton, Stephen Tennant, Rex Whistler, Georgia Sitwell, Zita Jungman and Teresa Jungman via
Stephen Tennant and The Bright Young Things, photograhed by Cecil Beaton, 1927 via
Performer backstage, 1928 via
Mlle. Rhea seated with flask in garter on leg, 1926 via
Bride in wedding dress, 11 September, 1929, Minneapolis, Minnesota via