From the 1910s, into the 1920s and 30s, Black culture in all forms proliferated in Harlem and became known as the Harlem Renaissance. In particular there was a flowering of jazz music, performance and night-clubs in the early part of the 1920s. This trend extended into Manhattan, first with Lew Leslie’s cabaret venue called the Plantation in 1922 and then with the Club Alabam in 1924. At the same time Black artists invaded Montmartre in Paris and established a comparable ‘Harlem in Montmartre.’
Fernando (Sonny) Jones was an intriguing, if somewhat elusive, black performer who made his life and career in Europe and especially in Paris in the 1920s. He was an accomplished dancer and made it big headlining in the Palace Theatre show Paris Voyeur in Paris in the 1925-1926 season. Throughout his career he was closely linked to Louis Douglas, another high profile black artist.
A prominant London couture atelier in the Jazz Age was that of Madame Yvonne based at 8 Motcombe Street, Belgrave Square, SW1.
In my opinion one of the most striking contributions to the extraordinary 1927 book The Robes of Thespis, were a series of drawings – classed as costume designs – by the artist Gladys Spencer Curling. She appeared to have a brief flurry of recognition and success in the late 1920s and designed the costumes and decor for several Anton Colin ballets but then faded from view.
This splendid advertising card was created to advertise the 1926 Fox picture Fig Leaves that was screened at the Capitol Theatre in the Haymarket, London in October 1926, along with a stage fashion show provided by the department store Stagg and Russell in Leicester Square.
The enigmatic Afro-American dancer Marie Woods appeared in the original line up of the famous La Revue Negre in Paris in 1925. This unique photograph shows her in costume from the show.
The Blue Lagoon was a member’s only nightclub that became a major London late-night haunt in the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
Le Grand Ecart, Paris
At once the most exclusive, chicest and smallest nightclub in Paris in the Jazz Age of the 1920s was Le Grand Ecart at 7 Rue Fromentin (just off the Boulevard Clichy and not far from Place Blanche and the Moulin Rouge) and created by Louis Moyses, creator of the other legendary venue Boeuf sur le Toit.
Val St Cyr and Baroque Ltd
Val St Cyr as the house of Baroque was a major force in the dress-designing world of London in the Jazz Age and beyond. Long forgotten and ignored, Val St Cyr’s work was nevertheless magnificent and was characterized by being original, idiosyncratic, innovative and daring.
A Dolly Tree gown for Rita Johnson
A stunning dinner gown created by Dolly Tree for Rita Johnson in Stronger Than Desire in 1939