What was the origin?
I’m not sure what people’s interpretations of flappers today would be—their clothing, their style, the style of music they played. But all of that does reflect our history. If we had a different story to tell about flappers, people would be much more inclined to read the flappers as a marginalized group or the original incarnation of women’s rights. I don’t have any idea if their politics were that different. Their clothing is what made them different.
Where did the flapper style live in the culture and how did that translate to the fashion?
The style was in the streets of New York in the 1890s-’90s, like they were in the South back then and they were there from the beginning—it really was like a movement. I think for fashion writers there was a sort of cultural understanding of the flapper—how this was a movement, this was a part of what women were and their movement. You would never see a woman walk around in a skirt, but it was also the point.
Where did the flapper style live or die after the 1940s?
I think it died out in the late 1940s or early ’50s, because the era for black women was just getting started. In the ’60s it was all different colors; it was really colorful and there wasn’t as much of a sense of femininity, and I think all that came to an end in the ’70s.
Were you influenced by them?
I was. I was influenced by a lot of people in the gay community because they got to know flappers. I met this woman named Diane Foye as a teen, and I went to her house and I saw her with a bunch of gay men doing flips and all these other things in the ’60s and ’70s.
What are you going to wear to your wedding?
I bought a long gown that I’m going to throw in the air in front of a mirror.
That sounds like something my grandmother would say.
I am wearing a long gown, and I will dress it in a way that is not formal; I will look like she would dress her.
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