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Eve’s figleaf…

May 9, 2011

This from Britannia magazine, July 1932, an absolute gem of an article which attempts to explain the more peculiar fashion trends:

“In a fashionable Paris restaurant, a courtesan is bitten in the wrist by an infuriated dancer whose Grand Duke she has stolen. She ties a gay handkerchief over the wound after her assailant has been thrown out, goes on supping and dancing. Next night an authentic smart set Parisienne who has witnessed the incident appears at a Faubourg St Germaine reception with a coloured mouchoir tied around her left wrist. It is one of those provocative whims that the most respectable women indulge in, hinting at possibilities… An English duchess transports the whim across the Channel; and that season all the women, from the debs to the hard-dancing fifty year olds, sport coloured hankies, either tied around wrists or tucked into barbaric bangles. And they have no idea what it is all about.”

Isn’t that fantastic!? Do we think it’s true? I’d love to believe so. (Although the tone of the entire article reads very masculine and ever so slightly condescending- and part of me wonders if Britannia’s inside man in Parisian Society simply sat in a pavement cafe one afternoon with a bottle of Pastis and made the whole thing up. There are other nuggets, equally priceless- maybe I’ll post some more this week….)

Anyway, once I’d finished chuckling, this little anecdote reminded me of an image I’d seen somewhere else. So I had a little (electronic) rootle around in my folder of vintage patterns sold.

And what I found was this:

I remember thinking the illustration on the pattern envelope a bit odd back when I scanned it. See? Handkerchief around the wrist. Ha! And I’m sure the lady on the pattern envelope here has absolutely no idea what this is about.

(Either that or she started the whole trend….)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2011 3:31 pm

    Hey, neat!! Thanks for the story.
    Funny, I didn’t even notice the handkerchief at the wrist until you pointed it out.

  2. May 11, 2011 4:50 am

    Hah, I love that drawing of the dancer lunging across the table to sink her teeth into the courtesan’s wrist! Great story, I hope it was really true!

  3. Stéphanie permalink
    May 13, 2011 11:49 am

    Wonderful ! It reminds me of the story of the red heels fashion for men in the 17th century Do you know it ? Monsieur, brother of Louis XIV used to party with his friends in the streets of Paris during Carnival, where nobody would recognise them. One night, they went through the Innocents market and the slaughterhouses. The pavement of the streets was covered with animals blood and it stained their heels.
    Monsieur went back to Versailles very early in the morning and was summoned to the King Council at once. He only took time to change his coat and went there with his stained shoes. In the evening, all fashionable men in Versailles were wearing red heel shoes… Legend or History ?

    • glassoffashion permalink
      May 13, 2011 4:52 pm

      That’s interesting- I hadn’t heard that story! I wonder if that influence lingers on in Christian Louboutin’s red-soled shoes???

  4. Stéphanie permalink
    May 17, 2011 12:59 pm

    Probably not glamour enough for Louboutin…

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