Forties fantasy fashion
The year is 1945. You have impeccable taste, a figure to die for, not inconsiderable financial means, a genius drycleaner and the kind of glamorous lifestyle that renders issues of practicality redundant. What would you wear?
Personally, I’d have jumped into the cockpit of my Auster J/1 Autocrat G-AGOH and, on touching down in Paris, I’ve have headed straight for the salon of Robert Piguet at the Rond Point des Champs Elysee. Piguet would have been delighted to see me, naturellement, and after catching up on all his news I’d have whipped out this illustration by René Gruau from the winter 1945 issue of Signes magazine:
“Robert, you have outdone youself. The strong lines, the use of different textures and the splash of red lining in the coat and the sash. How modern it is! How elegant! Its confident simplicity needs no pattern, no ornament, no flashy jewellery. Will you make it for me?”
(Despite 1940s fashion getting a bad rap nowadays for the use of shoulder pads that look as if they’ve been stolen from a linebacker, in this outfit they add a touch of necessary drama and a strength. Use your finger to cover up the wide shoulder and the outfit still looks very nice but it doesn’t have the same power. Perhaps our mistrust of 1940s shoulder pads stems from seeing them incongruous in floral house dresses and conservative little suits?)
“Chérie,” Piguet would have replied, “for you, anything. But while you’re here, there’s another of my designs I would also adore to see you in. Perhaps you would like to borrow it for a while…?”
Piguet would have seen me as a kind of muse, but I could never have been his entirely. After kissing him on both cheeks I’d have popped over to Madame Grès on the Rue de la Paix and ordered this for evening:
And then it would be back to vanquishing injustice wherever I found it and the never-ending fight to free the world from tyranny and oppression, etc.