Following the war years, many of the countries involved experienced rapid transformation on a variety of levels: 'War and major disasters have always speeded up change dramatically and created acceptance of cultural changes once unthinkable. During the Great War of 1914-18, fashion came to a standstill. It was a time of uniforms and drab functional clothes even though Paris fashion continued.' Its fashion may well have continued, but even Paris was not to escape the effects of a country at war. In an excerpt from Phillip Gibbs' The Soul of the War he tells us: 'Then suddenly the thunderbolt fell with its signal of war, and in a few days Paris was changed as though by some wizard's spell... A hush fell upon Montmartre, and the musicians in its orchestras packed up their instruments and scurried with scared faces – to Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest. No more boats went up to Sevres and St. Cloud with crowds of pleasure-seekers.'
Perhaps it should be of little surprise, then, that Paris became one of the focal points for such great social and cultural change: 'As a beacon of personal and artistic freedom, Paris, the "City of Light," lured thousands of American musicians, artists, and writers in the 1920s and 1930s. They crossed the Atlantic, bringing with them a unique facet of the modern age – jazz.' 'A conjunction of literary influences', writes Michael Reynolds, 'was about to take place which would forever change the topography of American literature.' (Michael Reynolds, Hemingway the Paris Years, New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1999, p. 11)
It was in this environment that men and, shockingly, women too, began enjoying dramatic changes in fashion, thinking, style, and music – and, of course, there was it was accompanied by an abundance of excessive drinking. 'For women, hair was cut shorter (sometimes the Eton crop) and clothing changed drastically, becoming shorter and less "covering." So revolutionary were these changes that in 1925, the Archbishop of Naples pointed a castigatory finger at short skirts. He believed that they were the cause for an Italian earthquake.' The age would become synonymous with the Flapper.