Dressing for the future: Speculative fashion in 1930s Hollywood | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2044-2823
  • E-ISSN: 2044-2831



The interwar years saw extensive speculation on the future in all fields of design. Hollywood was remarkably reticent on the subject and ‘science fiction’ was a subordinate genre. This article explores significant films that were set in the future with particular regard to dress and architectural mise-en-scène. It suggests how certain tropes of future dress, partly indebted to avant-garde design and partly adapted from historical fictions, were deployed and considers in some detail the futuristic Just Imagine of 1930, popular serials of the era and finally the utopian Lost Horizon of 1937. It concludes with some reflections on how dress appeared as part of the future proposed by the New York World’s Fair of 1939.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): architecture; costume; design; fashion; modernity; science-fiction; the future
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