Free* | Jazz Age Costume Design

Friday 11 November / 11.30am

Join us for this free morning talk which celebrates Jazz Age costume designer Dolly Tree (1899–1962) with new research documenting her life and work.

“Miss Tree has a genius for dress design as all of us who go to the theatre know.”
The Tatler, 1925

In the 1920s and 1930s, Dolly Tree forged a successful career in London, Paris, New York and Hollywood. As Great Britain’s leading costume designer after the First World War, she became not only the first woman but the first Briton to design for the Folies Bergère. Her artistic creations for theatre, cabaret, couture and film touched an incredible roster of stage and screen personalities. She was also responsible for creating the quintessential 1890s look for Mae West that made her famous, and her elegant creations for such movie stars as Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, Judy Garland, Maureen O’Sullivan and other MGM starlets were seen by millions. Yet her legacy has been largely ignored.

Ahead of the publication of the first illustrated biography on Dolly Tree, author Gary Chapman outlines why her creative genius had such a profound impact on fashion and visual culture. A prime example of a 20th century ‘New Woman’, her modern approach to dress design with its chic simplicity has given her creations a timeless quality that still resonates with contemporary fashion. Alongside her costume design, Tree was engaged by Peron Ltd, a prestigious couture house established in Paris by Jean Peron, as the sole designer for Peron Modiste. From autumn 1923 to spring 1927, Dolly Tree designed Peron’s collections for his retail outlets in both London and Paris in an arrangement that enabled her to continue designing for the stage. Chapman reveals the full extent of Tree’s talent with images of original costume designs and glamorous gowns for Hollywood movie stars.

The illustrated biography Dolly Tree: A Dream of Beauty will be published in 2017.

Gary Chapman is the author of The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age and London’s Hollywood: The Gainsborough Studio in the Silent Years. A marketing professional in the book industry for over 30 years, he established Edditt Publishing in 2012 ( Chapman has a large collection of Jazz Age ephemera focused on fashion, cabaret, silent film, music-hall, dance, theatre and costume design. His collection is represented by the Mary Evans Picture Library and he runs The Jazz Age Club website

*Free talk with exhibition entry

Book Online
Exhibition tickets: £9.90 adults* / £7.70 concessions* / £6 students
*Includes 10% gift aid

All images © copyright Gary Chapman / Jazz Age Club

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