Call it what you will--Jazz Age, Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties--the famed decade of flappers and excess is having a moment. There seems to be something about the 1920's that has us here in the 2010's feeling a little nostalgic.
Movies, Books and TV
It started in 2011 with Woody Allen's whimsical ode to the Twenties, Midnight in Paris. The film became Allen's most commercially successful to date. Then came Paula McClain's best seller, A Paris Wife which delved into Ernest Hemingway's legendary ex-pat life with his first wife in Paris. This spring a new novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, takes a closer look at the spirited and unhinged life of one of literature's most famous spouses. Speaking of...Baz Luhrmann's take on the Great Gatsby will open up the Cannes Film Festival this May. On television, the residents of Downton Abbey (both upstairs and downstairs) are facing the oncoming turbulent twenties like a polite pack of deer in headlights.
Our modern day exemplar of excess Kate Moss put her stamp of approval on the trend in 2011 by choosing a Gatsby-esque gown for her weekend-long bachanal of a wedding. The New York time's very recent piece on the popularity of 1920's style wedding dresses rounds out the picture. It seems Mary Crawley-style "languid" and "slinky" and "beaded" dresses are big requests at bridal shops these days.
What Does it Mean?
Who knows? We didn't invent nostalgia. There were plenty of people in the 1920's whose fear of jazz and flappers and electricity and women voting and automobiles made them yearn for simpler times. Maybe with a 50 or 100 year buffer reality shows, #hashtagging and smart phones will have people feeling wistful.