by Rowena Howie January 14, 2020
Have you ever watched Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries? (Here in the UK it's currently available on Netflix). I'm a big fan of Phryne Fisher style and am eagerly looking forward to the new movie release this Spring so with that in my sights and with several people asking if I think we will see a 1920s fashion revival in the 2020s I want to consider the answer to that question with regard to my favourite period drama heroine.
I'm a great admirer of confident women who appear to easily own an individualistic sense of style. Turning even the latest fashions to their personal advantage, these inspiring women never simply "follow" fashion they embody it.
In recent years I think some of the best examples I can think of I have found via the 'Advanced Style' project initiated by Ari Seth Cohen but I've also discovered Instagram influences and closer to home met women in the shop, at London Hat Week and through my friends and networks, who have commanded my respect and admiration.
As you know though, I am also inspired by beautiful bygone eras and my favourite is definitely art moderne, that glorious classic period when art deco emerged as a new style statement. Architecture, interiors, furniture, art, every aspect of twenties and thirties fashion fills me with ideas and inspiration.
Imagine the confluence then of an adventurous, spirited woman living her best life during the height of 1920s fashion; meet fictional TV character, Phryne Fisher.
A female detective who gives fuddy old Poirot a run for his money, she'd be considered positively scandalous by the Crawley family and she has more understanding and gumption than the usual 'clothes horse" romantic female roles in most 1920s themed dramas.
Of course an astute, open minded, adventurer such as Phryne needs a wardrobe to match! Every outfit of every episode of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is to die for. It's not all fringed flapper dresses and sequin sensations either. Phryne has a job to do, there's certainly an element of practical style in her wardrobe that i really like and is quite different to many other female, period drama figures.
Though we never know Phyne's exact age, actress Essie Davis who plays Phryne is 49 and I love the self-possessed, discriminating, cultured and cosmopolitan quality she successfully brings out in the character. Phryne Fisher is experienced, well travelled, and accomplished. This helps us understand the sophisticated style that embues not just how she acts and thinks but how she expresses herself in the design and creativity of her home, her belongings and her wardrobe.
Being a brilliant super sleuth is central to the plot line but unsurprisingly so is the "will they? wont they?" romantic drama between Phryne and police detective Jack. There are plenty of fantastic, alluring and sexy ensembles Phryne has in that wardrobe of hers designed to wow any person she has in her sights. Phryne is a 'modern' woman in every way.
Though artfully 1920s Miss Fishers's style is, it's also very timeless. Sure she wears some amazing 1920s dresses throughout the seasons but her signature style is elegant trousers, a simple elegant top and an amazing jacket/coat in some stunning print or sumptuous texture.
The fabrics used are undoubtedly what makes these outfits extra special. Silks, chiffons, velvet burnouts, brocade and embroidery all play their part, of course with the accessories to match. This adds to the picture of the glamorous lifestyle that makes us love, admire and desire Phryne's story.
We can't forget though that there's a contextual element to creating period authenticity too. There's actually a fantastic Vanity Fair interview with costume designer Marion Boyce where she talks about exactly this, how she had to reconcile an authentic 1920s look with a female action hero who is a regular rule breaker.
That timeless art to Phryne's style is what I most love though. It's where i see that thread from the 1920s to the 2020s in that element of self posession and self knowledge that allows a woman to interpret current fashion, bring to bear life experience, consider practical need, appreciate quality and craft and turn all of this into a look that is recognisably "her". An admirable feat, one that commands deep respect and honestly a bit of envy.
People have asked me if I think we will see a 1920s fashion revival as we enter the 2020s?
Whilst I'm sure there will be no end to the decadent Jazz Age parties providing an excuse for wearing glittering gowns and flapper fashion I would like to see more of a different kind of 'It Girl' in the 2020s:
I'd like to see more Phryne Fisher style, not just in her sophisticated wardrobe inspiration but in Phryne's attitude and outlook, refusing to be restricted by outdated social convention, challenging the status quo not just for personal gain but to better the lives of others and forging the life for herself that she desires to lead with relationships on her terms and work she enjoys and excels at. That's my kind of style.
Lover of beautiful things and amazing people. Explorer and Entrepreneur. This is my independent shop, whether you visit our London boutique or browse our online offering it is my vision that our wonderful team is working hard to bring to life.
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