Sunday, January 31, 2010

French fashion

http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/anorexia_lead_narrowweb__300x480,2.jpgFashion has been an important industry and cultural export of France since the seventeenth century, and modern "haute couture" originated in Paris in the 1860s. Today, Paris, along with Tokyo, London, Milan, and New York City, is considered one of the world's fashion capitals, and the city is home or headquarters to many of the premier fashion houses. Historically, many of the world's top designers and fashion houses have been French, including Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Chloé, Hermès, Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent, and shoe designer Christian Louboutin.

World War II

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Many fashion houses closed during occupation of Paris during World War II, including the Maison Vionnet and the Maison Chanel. Inbv contrast to the stylish, liberated Parisienne, the Vichy regime promoted the model of the wife and mother, the robust, athletic young woman, a figure who was much more in line with the new political criteria. Germany, meanwhile, was taking possession of over half of what France produced, including high fashion, and was also considering relocating French haute couture to the cities of Berlin and Vienna, neither of which had any significant tradition of fashion. The archives of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture were seized, most consequentially the client list. Jews were excluded from the fashion industry.

Due to the difficult times, the number of models in shows was limited to seventy-five, evening wear was shortened and day wear was much lighter, made using substitute materials whenever possible. From 1940 onward, no more than thirteen feet (four meters) of cloth was permitted to be used for a coat and a little over three feet (one meter) was all that allowed for a blouse. No belt could be over one and a half inches (four centimeters) wide. Among young men in the War Years the zazou suit became popular.

In spite of the fact that so many fashion houses closed down or moved away during the war, several new houses remained open, including Jacques Fath, Maggy Rouff, Marcel Rochas, Jeanne Lafaurie, Nina Ricci, and Madeleine Vramant. During the Occupation, the only true way for a woman to flaunt her extravagance and add to color to a drab outfit was to wear a hat. In this period, hats were often made of scraps of material that would have otherwise been thrown away, sometimes incorporating butter muslin, bits of paper, and wood shavings. Among the most innovative milliners of the time were Pauline Adam, Simone Naudet, Rose Valois, and Le Monnier.