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Winter Season 1941, Paris

January 13, 2008



Now and again I buy something on ebay that so far exceeds my expectations that I’m well and truly gobsmacked. The latest arrival I bought for its air of mystery and because a couple of the listing pictures intrigued me. I’m thrilled by what a great find it is.

From my limited French, this seems to be a pattern catalogue for a company based in Paris called Editions Bell. However, the patterns are of such staggering complexity and intricate cut that this must have been a service aimed at a professional dressmaker rather than a home sewer. The company offers to express you a pattern cut to your exact measurements within 48 hours. Wow.

What amazes me even more than the cut of these styles is that these patterns are for the 1940/41 Winter season. In France. Wasn’t the fashion industry in France hit pretty hard by the Second World War??


I love the way that in the 1940s fashion ran through a whole range of shapes and lines from utility clothing and rationing, the draped sophisticated “film noir” look, the romantic “I’ve just stepped out of an MGM musical” look with sweetheart neckline and puff sleeves, to Dior’s “New Look” in 1947.

Click on the pictures and thumbnails of a few pages below to enlarge in order to really appreciate the details. (Apologies for the wonky pictures- my scanner is A4 and I’ve had to use a camera for this A3 booklet…)

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Camille permalink
    December 4, 2008 9:30 pm

    Oh my God!!
    I’m so jealous. What a find!
    Thaks for sharing these photos with us.
    C’est magnifique!

  2. ardyn permalink
    February 17, 2009 11:35 pm

    I love these vintage pics.

  3. June 14, 2009 10:14 am

    wow do you have the 40s fashion book? i love vintage.

  4. September 6, 2009 4:04 pm

    Hi there

    Have had a really good look at this website and it’s been really useful and I am wondering whether or not you may be able to help. I am writing a novel and in this story there is an older woman, a risque woman so to speak, singing around a group of soldiers in a bar during the blackout period in London. What would she be wearing and how would I describe her? I know that lots of hats were worn but being a bloke I am pretty hopeless at describing dresses and would really appreciate some explanation of the style. I figure she would be in her best, despite the shortages of the war. She is around 45-50 and is a very adept entertainer with good sense of fashion. The year is 1940.

    Many thanks in advance for any effort you can spare on this one.

    Your Sincerely
    Sam Remington

  5. November 29, 2010 1:27 pm

    I love vintage fashion! And the French are the most wonderful designers in the world, especially the ones in the 1940’s.Thanks for the unique pictures!

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