Glimmer and Glamour

1920s Glamour

Sparkle, shine and lengths of beaded fringe lend themselves to moving image and moving bodies. The end of the silent film heyday in the late 1920s saw dramatically different fashions: a tubular silhouette, shorter skirts, fewer layers of fabric, and much more decorative detailing using rhinestones, gems, embroidery and beads of glass, silver, jet and gun metal. The two dresses featured here are both from the mid-1920s and feature exquisite beadwork with set rhinestones in an Art Deco aesthetic.

Irene Castle and Philipsborn’s Catalog

In 1917, at the height of her fame, Irene Castle signed an endorsement contract with

Philipsborn’s, a catalogue company based in Chicago. Specific clothing designs in the catalog

were “Castle Approved.” In 1920 her role changed and she began designing the clothes. “It is

Irene Castle’s ambition to give the greatest number of women in the smaller towns an

opportunity to wear ‘Castle Designed’ styles – whereas, should she associate herself with a large

retail store, the number of women who benefit by her designs would be necessarily very

limited,” explained one advertisement. By working with Philipsborn and Corticelli she cornered

both ends of the apparel market. The Philipsborn line was economically priced, while the

Corticelli dresses sold for much higher. The average cost of an Irene Castle Corticelli Fashions

dress in 1924 was $50 (approximately $690 in 2016 dollars) whereas the Philipsborn dresses sold

for $2.98 (approximately $40 in 2016 dollars). Castle’s professional relationship with

Philipsborn’s lasted until 1922.


Evening Dress, Seafoam Green with Silver Beadwork
Sheath Dress, Black with Beadwork (Front)
Sheath Dress, Black with Beadwork (Back)
Sheath Dress, Black with Beadwork (Detail)


Pumps, Silver Leather
Pumps, Silver with Rhinestone Embellishment

Ithaca-Made Movie Ephemera