Inspiration: 1930s Seeberger Style


How this book passed me by until now is beyond me.  It came out in 2007, back when my obsession with the 1930s was still going strong.  Back then I was knitting up sweaters from ’30s patterns with tiny, carpal tunnel-inducing gauges while watching Busby Berkeley movies for fashion inspiration. I liked the cute stuff mostly: bows, polka dots, crazy collars, puffed sleeves. Basically I wanted to be Ruby Keeler, only with Joan Blondell’s tough-talking, shade-throwing attitude.  I still want to be more like her.

I quit trying to dress like Ruby Keeler though.  Mostly because I was getting older—the bows and puffed sleeves weren’t looking so cute when I was pushing 30.  Also I got bored. I wanted something new, and started gravitating towards the simple stuff that didn’t have all the trimmings.  I kept watching ’30s movies (all those pre-codes and gangster flicks and Astaire/Rogers musicals: how could I not?), but not really for fashion inspiration anymore.

But then I saw photos by the Seeberger brothers.  They were French fashion photographers in the first half of the last century who took photos of people at society events, basically early street style photographers. I checked out Elegance: The Seeberger Brothers and the Birth of Fashion Photography from the library and read about how the brothers started out in the early 1900s, taking photos at horse races and at the beaches of Deauville for the society and fashion pages of French magazines. They’d take photos of stars, society women, and models, who were often planted at the big events by smart designers. In the process, the Seebergers documented the changes in fashion throughout the years.  There are the frilly Edwardians and the Chanel flappers, and then there are the ’30s clotheshorses, who are my favorites by far.

They look the most modern to me, even more modern than the women in the Seebergers’ later photographs.  Their clothes are so simple—straight lines and perfect cuts, no details or pieces of jewelry that aren’t necessary.  The few photographs of women in puffed sleeves and extra trimmings get a side eye from one of the book’s authors: “Women in frilly, frothy dresses and great broad-brimmed hats seemed to inhabit a permanent garden party in search of a bygone era.”  I don’t even want to know what he’d say about poor Ruby Keeler.



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8 Comments

  1. Posted February 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Rhiannon, I just love it when you write about what you’re reading. I can’t tell you how many great books I’ve read thanks to you!

  2. Posted February 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    YES YES YES….vintage perfection.

  3. Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    That second to left cut-out style outfit is quite unique.

  4. Posted February 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Awesome post, I love reading your blog because of your amazing writing skills :)

  5. Posted February 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    ooooh this makes me want to dress up and go to an airshow. LOVE.

  6. Posted February 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Great pictures you have discovered.. love the long and simple cuts. Cool inspiration!

  7. Anthe
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Very Classy! Love it all!

  8. Lilybelle
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I love the photos! I love the clothes of the 1930s, those clean long lines you mention, the wide trousers, the long slim a-line skirts. I think they are elegant clothes. I wonder whether my library has that book. I’m going to look for it. Thank you!

2 Trackbacks

  • By Inspiration | Make everyday Outstanding on February 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    [...] Inspiration: 1930s Seeberger Style http://www.liebemarlene.com/Back then I was knitting up sweaters from '30s patterns with tiny, carpal tunnel-inducing gauges while watching Busby Berkeley movies for fashion inspiration. I liked the cute stuff mostly: bows, polka dots, crazy collars, puffed … [...]

  • By Elizabeth Suzann SS 2014 on March 11, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    [...] clothes from the ’20s and ’30s. The long dusters and wide-legged silk pants gave me Seeberger vibes, so I knew I had to steer the styling in that direction somewhat. Using pieces like [...]

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