During the 1920s, women's fashion changed dramatically in step with the changing social mores. Women could vote, entered the workforce in record-breaking numbers and became more liberated in general. As a result, the fashion designs of the day reflected their growing independence. Hemlines grew shorter while dresses and undergarments became less restrictive. During the decade, there were several designers who were influential and whose mark is still apparent in modern fashion.
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Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in Saumur, France, in 1883, Coco Chanel has perhaps the most lasting legacy of any designer of the 1920s. Chanel's world-famous style borrowed details from men's wear, eventually resulting in two- or three-piece women's suits. Unlike men's suits of the time, her women's suits had surprising details like matching blouses, fashionably lined jackets and pleated skirts. In addition to the skirt suit, Chanel pioneered the modern "little black dress." The simple style became an instant classic and can be found in women's closets all over the world today.
Italian-born Elsa Schiaparelli is often considered Coco Chanel's biggest rival. In the beginning, Schiaparelli specialised in sportswear, designing sweaters, jackets and skirts. She became famous for her coveted black knit sweaters with a white bow tie design. During the 1930s, her style truly came to fruition as she married her practical sportswear designs with couture. She drew inspiration from surrealism, creating wild prints, costume jewellery and hats. Schiaparelli is still famous today for her shocking giant lamp chop-shaped hat.
French designer Jean Patou made an undeniable mark on the fashion world. He invented the first designer label, outlining his pockets with a "J" and a "P." He specialised in sportswear, designing clothes made specifically for different sports. He dressed actresses, athletes and stage-performers during his heyday. He drew inspiration from the art world, famously creating "cubist" sweaters. His most lasting mark, however, was in creating the world's most expensive perfume, "Joy."
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