Most scripted television strives to mirror contemporary life with at least some level of precision. Producers spend months, sometimes years, meticulously surveying target audiences and researching subcultures in order to accurately reflect the humor, taste, attention span, fears, politics, and self-image of a particular demographic or scene. But sometimes, they end up forecasting and setting cultural trends rather than reflecting them.
That’s clearly been the case with the 1920s fashion craze brought on by Martin Scorsese’s Emmy-winning Boardwalk Empire, still young in its second season. The fascination with the Roaring Twenties may have already begun in 2009, when faux speakeasies began popping up in every city across the US, but the show has repackaged the Prohibition image for a wider audience and spoon-fed it to designers, whose catwalks are now crowded with flapper-inspired frocks and feathers.Boardwalk Empire isn’t the first, though, and it won’t be the last. We’ve rounded up the television shows that, for better or for worse, catalyzed the fashion fads of their eras. Which current shows do you hope turn out to be trendsetters?
Boardwalk Empire (2010-present): The Flapper
The 1920s are in the air. Esquire lauds Boardwalk Empire as “the most beautiful show on television” and tips men off on how to wear a suit like Nucky Thompson. Meanwhile, designers have strewn recreations of the drop-waist flapper dresses and T-strap pumps of Prohibition times all over red carpets and runways, and Spring 2012 fashion week shows like Marc Jacobs’ in New York and Gucci’s in Milan looked a whole lot like the 1925 speakeasies of Chicago. The trend looks only to be on its way up, continuing to seep into various aesthetic media, particularly film, with Owen Wilson’s starry-eyed idealization of the ’20s in Midnight in Paris and the forthcoming adaptation of everyone’s favorite twenties tale, The Great Gatsby.