They symbolized a lot of things: the time, the place where they were born, the state of their community. They were at the height of their popularity at around the 1920’s, but their popularity declined.
And yet, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, flappers rose to fame as a fashion brand. I am reminded, in the film, of a time when flappers wore white dresses under their red hair. They were very fashionable.
So I wondered, I didn’t know where flappers came from. What did flapper culture mean? What did it say about America? That’s what I wanted to know.
I talked to some other cultural historian, the wonderful, fascinating and immensely talented John B. Hales. And John was kind enough to give me this great book called The Long Midnight. It was published in 1964 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I think B.B. King’s song is written about this. He was a great friend of mine. And he interviewed one of the best known flapper singers, a name that you will recall, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Gloria Mott. Gloria Mott was a very strong performer. She was very famous then. She actually became an icon; she was a big star when she started.
And there was a time when flappers were very popular. They were a very sexy, feminine symbol, and there were a lot of flappers. They had flaps, and they wore white dresses under them and were very sexy women. And when they moved to the suburbs, when they changed from being sexy to being more professional, these other characters started to appear more strongly, much more prominently. They moved from being more professional to being more sexual.
Now, it is true that some of these characters are flappers because it was seen as a more attractive and glamorous profession, but many of them are women born in the 20’s or 30’s who wanted a more professional life than an ordinary job. And that is something that American culture and fashion culture had a lot to do with.
This was a period of a great American boom, I think, where a lot of our culture was being shaped by what was happening in the rest of the world. And so it is a period that’s remembered as the American Century, and it was a period where women of a certain kind are very present in the entertainment landscape.
So, that’s what inspired the films. But I
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