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Save me the waltz, and a discovery

August 9, 2008

“Lespiaut couldn’t make enough flowers for the trade. They made nasturtiums of leather and rubber and wax gardenias and ragged robins out of threads and wires. They manufactured hardy perennials to grow on the meagre soil of shoulder straps and bouquets with long stems for piercing the loamy shadows under the belt. Modistes pieced hats together from the toy boats in the Tuileries; audacious dressmakers sold the summer in bunches. The ladies went to the foundries and had themselves some hair cast and had themselves half-soled with the deep chrome fantasies of Helena Rubenstein and Dorothy Gray…”

Snapshot of Paris, 1927 from Save Me the Waltz, Zelda Fitzgerald’s slightly surreal slant on fast living in the 1920s (and a story strikingly parallel to her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night). Rereading this beautiful passage I just had put down the book and google Lespiaut, a name Zelda tosses in as a brand so well known that her reader would have needed no explanation of it. The only web reference I could find on Lespiaut today (nothing but their address in 1927) led to an exciting discovery: the web archives of Jalou, the French publishers of, among other magazines, L’Officiel de la Mode, which started in 1921 and is still running. What’s more, you can roam around their archives, and actually turn the pages of all the issues from every decade. Click on plein ecran to view pages full screen, and then use the magnify glass to zoom in further. I browsed 1927 issues for the picture at the top of this post, and this gorgeous one here:

Almost as good as the fashion shots are the advertisements:

Isn’t it fantastic that publishers allow you to access this kind of information and inspiration?

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 21, 2008 3:12 am

    Gasp! What a great find. Thanks so very much for posting this.

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