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Art Deco compacts are fun to collect and so chic and stylish. You can impress your friends by slipping one out of your handbag to powder your nose or touch up your lipstick.
Putting on makeup in public was just one of things which women got away with from the 1920s, along with smoking, drinking and kissing!
It was all part of the growing emancipation of women which started during World War I as they had to work in factories and on the farm to support the war effort. Women remained in the workforce after the war, and their earning power and independence meant that they could afford luxuries like makeup, elegant compacts and cigarette cases to help them feel more glamourous and cheery after the war.
No self-respecting flapper would go anywhere without her compact!
Compacts were very popular and came in all kinds of materials to suit all budgets. Top class jewelry designers like Cartier, Van Cleef von Arpels, Boucheron and Sandoz made exquisite compacts in enamelled or jewel encrusted gold and silver, in stylish Art Deco designs. Other materials used could be Mother of Pearl or Butterfly wing.
Cheaper compacts began to be mass produced in chrome, wood, or Bakelite but the designs remained stylish and modern.
Geometric shapes, shell forms, sunbursts, all the Art Deco motifs appeared on compacts. There were lots of novelties such as bottle shapes, musical compacts or a little toy monkey.
The advances in engineering of the day meant that there were all sorts of clever mechanisms to open or close the compact, windscreen wipers to clean the mirror, or little compartments with spring open clasps.
even came with a watch included like the Art Deco compact I recently
bought above! Inside are two little compartments one for powder and one for rouge which spring open when you touch a little lever. And the design is so typically Art Deco with the parallel lines in cream enamel.
In France the compact was expanded to a necessaire by some of the high end jewellers. It was a slightly larger vanity case - which included powder, lipstick, mirror and comb and hung from a silk cord.
often decorated with highly exotic motifs such as chinese pagodas or
birds of paradise, or Egyptian temples. Alfred van Cleef called his
version a "minaudiere" (minauder means to simper) after watching his
wife at the mirror! He replaced the evening bag completely, and had
matching cigarette cases, card cases and lipstick holders.
There are compacts to suit all tastes and budgets, and its a fantastic collecting area. They can be used today, don't take up much space, and are the ultimate in feminine style and beauty.
Check out the beautiful examples available from Etsy by clicking the banner below.
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