1920s: The Stencil Craze


From the devastating losses of the First World War and the Influenza Epidemic emerged the ‘Roaring’ Twenties - the era of the ‘bright young things’, and the Flapper.

Flappers left behind the restrictions of Victorian and Edwardian convention, cutting their hair into short bobs, and abandoning corsets. Skirt lengths rose and waists dropped.  Young women experimented with make up, not necessarily to make themselves beautiful, but to make an impact - facilitated by advances in cosmetics including lipsticks in tubes, face powder and rouge in compacts. 

And body art was in vogue.  If one had the means, an artist could be called upon to paint a design on your back.  The stage and pantomime star Mona Vivian is shown here having her cat painted on her shoulder.  Those with less money used stencils to achieve a similar result.



"The social butterfly type... the frivolous, scantily-clad, jazzing flapper, irresponsible and undisciplined, to whom a dance, a new hat, or a man with a car, are of more importance than the fate of nations"

- Dr. R. Murray-Leslie, February 1920


 (c)  TopFoto

  May 22, 1921: “Miss Mona Vivian has her pet black cat painted on her shoulder by the well known artist, Mr. Francis Warden  “  (c)  TopFoto

May 22, 1921: “Miss Mona Vivian has her pet black cat painted on her shoulder by the well known artist, Mr. Francis Warden

(c) TopFoto




 (c)  TopFoto


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 Text and curation: Amanda Uren



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