Miniature of the Month

Twenties Vignette

A silk day dress with cloche hat and daytime cocktail dress with turban are two examples of Twenties fashion in the collection. Dolls and costumes by Maria José Santos.

Coco Chanel was right when she said, “…fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening …” and the clothing from the Roaring Twenties illuminates the period of dramatic social and political change beautifully. During this time, the nation’s wealth doubled and newfound economic growth and industrial capabilities lit a fire of mass consumerism. Women, especially, were drawn to the new freedoms. They were working, they were voting and they were making their own decisions on what they would buy and how they would look. Saying goodbye to the corset and breaking free of the physical and social constraints of the previous century, they were also enthused to style their hair with a new ease, chopping long locks into the popular and more manageable bob cuts of the time.

Beautiful examples of 1920s fashion can be found in our Twenties Vignette. The dolls, created and costumed by notable Spanish dollmaker Maria José Santos, show several styles. Lydia, sitting on the left of the sofa, wears an elegant silk burgundy day dress trimmed with silk ribbon embroidery. Her cloche hat is made out of leather and adorned with a row of leaves combining ivory color lines which match the motifs of her shoes. A mink stole completes her look.

Eve, on the right of the sofa, is dressed in a daytime cocktail dress. Her short curly hair is tied in a turban, which was a stylish alternative to the cloche and toque hats of the time. While turbans were basically simple pieces of cloth wrapped horizontally around the head, they took on a whole new personality with feathers and jewels. It was one of the only hat styles worn with formal evening attire that could also be shaped into a daytime hat and redesigned for the occasion.

Male fashion trends also leaned to more comfortable attire.

Simplicity remained fashionable in the ’20s for men as well as for women. Lounge suits replaced frock coats; soft trilbies and Homburgs ousted the silk top hat; shirt collars became lower and softer and dinner jackets increasingly took over for white ties and tails. In the vignette, Brandon wears a white suit with blue shirt, printed tie and dark gold-green vest while he swirls his brandy. He sports spectator shoes, also known as co-respondent shoes, a style of low-heeled Oxfords constructed from two contrasting colors with decorative perforations. This style of footwear actually dates from the nineteenth century but reached the height of popularity during the 1920s and 1930s.

Also included in the vignette is Alexandra, dressed in an Asian-aesthetic coat. These triangular-cut kimono coats, called “cocoon coats” formed beautiful drapes on the female figure. Many were adorned with brightly colored Asian-themed prints. This one is a beautiful silk print of birds and cherry blossoms inspired by a popular perfume label of the time. Maria chose a curly bob cut for this doll and styled her in gold leather shoes.

While not everything in this vignette is decade specific, the scene highlights Maria’s dolls in a very Gatsbyesque way. The Biedermeier furniture by Pit Ginsburg, founder of Bespaq, is early to mid-1800s German style. Its association with utility and simplicity, however, lends itself to 1920s style and could very well have been a furnishing at the time. The lighter Eve may have used to ignite her cigarette in its trendy opera length holder is definitely Art Deco, but in reality it looks to be more like a Ronson Queen Anne table lighter, which dates to the ‘30s.

Triangular-cut kimono coats, called “cocoon coats” were popular in the Twenties.

Maria also creates ballerinas and other 1/12 scale figures from various historical periods, as well as characters from famous ballets, movies, books and fairy tales. All are constructed from original molds. Her costumes are based on authentic patterns researched through intense study of fashion and sewn by hand. More of her work can be seen at



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KSB Miniatures Collection at The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center
215 Sutton Street, Maysville, Kentucky 41056 | 606-564-5865 |

Kentucky Gateway Museum Center