Fashion History: France & WW2

di mauros suede sandals with allied flagsIf you're a history buff, looking for creative inspiration during hard times, or happen to be bored in Paris (unlikely), there is an exhibit going on now at the Mémorial du Marechal Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Libération de Paris – Musée Jean Moulin, twin museums dedicated to the French Resistance and Liberation of Paris. The exhibit shows a vast collection of fashions and accessories from the era, and runs through Nov. 15, 2009. You can see first hand examples of how Parisians were using whatever materials they had available in order to maintain there forward-thinking edge in fashion. I personally think this exhibit represents a duality in Paris, at a time when haute couture could not be made due to market and supply shortages, and where Paris was itself isolated from the global audience. Here you can see how everyday-people in Occupied Paris incorporated radical and creative pieces into their daily wardrobes, demonstrating the early ingredients of a culture that would take France beyond the couturiers of the French Court of Louis XIV, and into the modern spotlight of high-fashion after the war.

Photo By E.Emo and S.Piera/Galliera/Roger-Viollet

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Under Fascism, attempts were made to create an Italian style of international prominence with no success. After the war, France was again focused on reviving the haute-couture market, and the US was well on its way as the mass market leader in fast, cheap production. Italy found its niche in the middle.

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Fashion History: France After WW2... Dior Revolution

The geography of fashion has distant roots, and world capitols rely on a large accumulation of materials from around the world in order to grow. As a Nazi-occupied island, isolated from the rest of the world, Paris lost its monopoly on fashion, with competition growing stronger in New York, London and Italy. In order to recover, French ateliers returned to the haute-couture stage, but with innovative cooperation between the fashion and textile industries.

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Fashion History: From WW1 through WW2 - The Chanel Years

The interwar years saw a profound shift in the cultural values of the Western World. Women's fashion was particularly affected, with formality taking a backseat to practicality and comfort. Gabrielle Chanel was among the first designers to not only understand this cultural shift, but to capitalize on it and build an empire in the process.

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