By: Virginia Gunn
Contrary to the widespread belief that Americans were late in adopting “art deco” styles, a survey of popular American needlework, fashion, and decorating magazines published between 1900 and 1940 reveals that these European fashion and design trends were rather quickly, and first, incorporated into both clothing and furnishings for the most intimate room of the house – the bedroom. After 1910 American women began using “colonial revival” as a strategy for embracing “moderne” ideas, rather than using it strictly as a nostalgic alternative to Victorian decoration and beliefs. Using “colonial” rationalization, they adopted revealing French lingerie styles and began calling their bedrooms “boudoirs.” They created various kinds of “colonial boudoir” quilts, spreads, and decorations. These artifacts, which show direct influence of European decorative rends, can be interpreted as material culture symbols reflecting American women’s intentional movement away from Victorian ideals and values and toward modern lifestyles and ideas.