In New York City, the working woman has taken an assumed position. She reads her paper and swings from a subway strap with the same nonchalance, as does the working man. – New York Times 1927.
There have always been standards. There have always been fundamental changes. Big-city obscurity & freedoms ungratefully give a nod to small-town judgment & scrutiny. One idea must always propel the other. Victorian thrift and denial can be in vogue only so long, before it gives way to the forbearing scandalous times of indulgence and independence. And eventually the cycle finds its way home again to the familiar restraint and old-fashioned reliability. This is the simple nature of rebellion. It’s the constant generational shift that forgets its lessons every other generation.
It is the turmoil of a simple math solution. It is the struggle of the next modern idea. “It” is Elegance.
The cause and effect of mind-blowing changes are the most elegant things in the world. There is even a scientific precision to these cycles. And they are exciting every single time because there has always been a new and overly-impressed young generation to marvel like a 2 year old who is just discovering its motor skills and the wonders of sitting up straight for the first time! Not so elegant… not yet anyway.
But, we are not talking about new HTC Droid technology, Tea Party politics or even Roman Papal sex scandals as these mind-blowing changes! Let’s go back a little further and think about when it really all first began; and if there is anything we can learn from it today. The Gordon Geco Wall Street 80s? Nope.. farther back. The Free Love-and-Peace drug-fueled 60s? Nope.. keep going. The Beaver? …almost there. The first amoeba proteus? No No No!! Much too elegant for this short blog!
Ahhh…. The Flapper Girl.
Silent film star Clara Bow. Iconic beauty & movie-star Louise Brooks. Prohibition Speakeasy madam Texas-Mary Guinan. Three of the most simply elegant creatures of the modern era as we know it today. They were elegant because they changed things at just the right times. They were there at the birth of Madison Avenue advertising. The Scopes Monkey Trials. They were there at the beginning of the first national media known as radio. They were there at the beginning of Hollywood land and the emergence of the automobile. And true as the time-honored, claws-out, eye-scratching, girl-on-girl jealousy tradition – the Victorian, Christian Feminists hated them! Sinful Jazz music and The Charleston instead of Suffragette politics and PTA uniforms?! Equal rights & independence instead of moral values & guardian-mother family roles?! Well, this surely could not be tolerated forever!
Indeed it wasn’t. And it could not go on forever. But while they had it all – They were the latest Elegance.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, in 1931, proclaimed the death of The Jazz Age as the exuberant Roaring 20’s came to an end and The Great Depression began its stranglehold on the insecurities of society. 60% of households now had their own radios and families stayed home. Soon came television. Family cars. Suburban sprawl. Astronaut Tang.. and so on..
In this still new, young century, the world is trying to just sit up straight again. The oppressed voices have been getting louder. Evolution is questionable and technology at a relatively predictable lull. All the makings of the next tidy little breaking point.
So in the spirit of silent films, I say “Fuck it!” Bring on the New Flapper Boys… It will be simply, Elegant.