Ever heard the saying that Hungarian girls are the most beautiful in the world? Well, we'll leave that to you to decide. But while you mull it over, take a stroll through our collection of vintage photos featuring the fabulous women of the 20th century.

Plump or thin, working or cooking at home, sporting a long mane of hair or a short bob – no matter what standard was imposed on Hungarian women during the past centuries, the whole country agreed upon their beauty. And we think you will too after flicking through these old photos. We mean, unusual hairstyles and funny clothes aside, these ladies had surely turned heads back in the day. 

Let's start at the beginning of the 20th century when loosely styled buns and delicate lace blouses were in vogue. The photos from this era feature natural beauties and delicate smiles – maybe because it took longer to capture an image. However, it's also possible that the shy smiles are hiding bad teeth.

Change of times followed: the 1920s brought a significant transformation to beauty ideals with clothes and hairstyles gradually becoming simpler. Now confident smiles greet us in the photos, and you can spot ladies with short hair. These are women who fearlessly pursued their hobbies and turned towards education.

It appears that ever since cars and motorcycles started cruising the roads of Hungary, the theme of 'a pretty woman with a sleek set of wheels' has been taking centre stage. In our initial photo embracing this theme, 1920s supermodel Biri Cziczvarek showcases a travel outfit. Funnily enough, while cars have grown bigger, skirts have grown shorter.

We've created a special collection showcasing the elegance of women from the 30s and 40s. During this period, elegance and comfort harmoniously complemented each other; the waistline became more pronounced, and by the 1940s, the style seemed to fully blossom with shoulder pads, delicate hats, subtle reticules, and, of course, high-heeled shoes. These accessories paint the ladies in the photos so feminine that one can't help but yearn to don similar outfits, be it for work or socialising with friends.

In the 1950s, under the Soviet regime, the air of freedom dwindled and a sly fear governed the country. But looking at the photos of the models from that era, we don't sense much of it. Take the photo of Mari Deli, a model with Marilyn Monroe-esque blondness, who smiles at us from a bathtub at the Grand Hotel Margaret Island. Surely, it's only envy that prompts us to say that the setting evokes the painting 'The Death of Marat.' It's interesting to observe how gloves and hats play a diminishing role in fashion. At the fashion show on the Szabadság cruise ship, only the models wear lace gloves that perfectly match their outfits.

The 60s and 70s marked the era of stunning models like Ági Pataki, Dóri Patz, or Zsuzsa Vellai, often photographed in the most beautiful urban locations. Places like the shopping street Váci utca or the area around the Fisherman's Bastion seemed like slices of a Western city in worn-out Budapest. Towards the mid-to-late 70s, the strict, politically guided rules regarding dressing gradually began to loosen.

One of the best perks of modelling was the opportunity to travel for photo shoots. Some of the most talented girls made their way to London, Copenhagen, or even overseas. The distinctive eye-centric make-up styles suited most beauties remarkably well.

In the 80s and 90s, the West undeniably made its way to Hungary. Even before the regime change, the first Adidas store opened on Váci utca, and according to the photos, trendy sportswomen and ladies dressed in vibrant colours roamed the streets. While accessories like feathered headbands remind us of the giant hats worn at the beginning of the century, we might not fully understand them. It's clear, though, that the ladies wearing these unconventional outfits felt just as beautiful as their counterparts from a hundred years ago. Although fashion has changed, confidence has always looked good on everyone, then and now.

(Cover photo: Tamásá Urbán - Fortepan)