Friday, May 30, 2014

Wartime Parisian Fashion, 1940

Yay, sharing two separate fashion articles today! Double trouble.

They ran back to back (LIFE April 15, 1940), but are completely unrelated. I truly couldn't pick one over the other, as they are both to die for. The first one offers a glimpse into Parisian fashion houses during the war. Schiaparelli, Molyneux, Paquin... um, yes please. Note, Chanel is never mentioned, as she had already closed her shops (and let's be real... we know what she was up to during the war.) The second article is on an eyelet lace trend, and features some celluloid necklaces that I would do terrible things to own. Seriously.

First up:

Some scenes from the economic war front of Parisian fashions

            War came, and all over the world those to whom women’s wearing apparel is business or fun or both posed the question, “What about Paris?”
            War came, and many of the French houses closed. Men important to the industry were called to the colors. Essential materials were requisitioned. Some houses talked of reopening in the suburbs. Some considered Cannes and Biarritz as fashion centers. But some, like Madame Lanvin, never closed.
            By late October, time for the lesser midseason showings, the government had released key men and materials. By December, time for preparing the important spring collections, the great uncertainty was whether American buyers and press would risk the perils and discomforts of a trip to Paris. There was talk of shipping the clothes to New York for a gala fashion show. Nothing came of it. In January, wartime French couture made a worthy contribution to the economic front. Americans attended. A grateful French Government gave them a reception. Madame Suzy held a cocktail party. The American press countered with stories of brave Paris carrying on. Buyers, representing shops with a clientele which normally buys some of its own originals in Paris, bought more than usual. Despite the war, Paris still retains its fashion crown.
            Paris scenes during the latest collections are shown here.
Jenny Holt, French movie star, confers with Schiaparelli, here holding Berard’s dog.

  Gayest of the evening fashions is this brilliant taffeta-plaid wrap by Piguet with its huge leg o’mutton sleeves

  Finnish peasant stockings in white and bright colors startled audiences at Schiaparelli’s show 

  Paquin showed ruffled pantalets for bicycling

Bright plaid taffeta in a day coat by Paquin

  Walking outfit by Lelong has dark blue skirt, red jacket, hobo stick with a pouch bag

  Molyneux evening gown has a swathed apron skirt

  Molyneux-inspired are these two outfits – the dress above with apron front, and coat below with bloused back. Out of all the fashion ideas that came from Paris, these two features are the ones which caught the U.S. public’s fancy immediately. The apron dress has already become a fashion “Ford” (one above costs $10.95), and bloused backs are now being shown in suit jackets as well as full-length coats. 

Which ones are your favorites? Mine is hands down that Paquin bicycling outfit. Not only does it have matching bloomers, but that is definitely fancy lady novelty print. Kill me now.
 Ok, article number two!

Old eyelet embroidery is new

            When 1940 revives a style of 1890, it usually is so modified that it is recognizable only to willing imaginations. The present revival of eyelet embroidery is a glaring exception. The hole-punched cottons now being used for collars, cuffs, neck ruffles, blouses, hats, gloves and dresses are indistinguishable from the stuff sold in the general dry goods stores of 50 years ago. Main difference is the fact that once upon a time all open work cottons were imported, mostly from Switzerland. Now they are made in the U.S.
 Even necklaces take up the punched-hole fad. This one is washable

Finnish bonnet and sailor above bloom in the sun, wilt in the rain

On gloves, eyelet embroidery is new but follows same old cut-out patterns. Backs of these gloves resemble hat's ruff, but palms are plain for greater practicality.

Red stitching outlines the eyelet-embroidered collar on this navy dress. Eyelet collar and cuff sets refresh old dresses. The hat is covered with openwork ruffles.

Batiste blouse is eyelet-embroidered all over, edged with narrow lace. The white hats on this page cost $12. They are not washable, and must be sent to the cleaners.
 See what I meant about the necklaces? 
I definitely told the magazine to shut up the first time I read this.




  1. This is great! How can even a "hobo" outfit look so chic? I love that the stick even matches. Brilliant look back at some wonderful fashions.

  2. Wow! Amazing fashions. I would ride a bike more often if I had a dress with matching bloomers to do it in!

  3. Dy-ing!!! So ridiculously fabulous!

  4. I've never seen eyelet in hat form! Love it!

  5. Molyneux ! Wow, splendid!

    Love From Paris,


  6. Wow, so many of these looks are just incredible! How amazing that Paris could create these fashions in a time of war. Simply amazing.
    Not to mention, I didn't know about the eyelet trend or that it was a rehash of the 1800s style. So interesting!