Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look

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Thames & Hudson, 2008 - Art - 208 pages
8 Reviews
Here is a definitive look at fashion in the 1940s—from French style under the Occupation and the “make do and mend” approach to wartime clothing shortages through the development of faux fabrics, the rise of American fashion houses, and the New Look of the post- war period.

The illustrations reveal the wide range of fashions and styles from the 1940s in North America, Europe, Australasia, and Japan. The lively text by fashion specialist Jonathan Walford details how fashion was considered not a frivolity but an aesthetic expression of circumstances in the 1940s. While Fascist states tried to create “national” styles before the war began, by 1940 the pursuit of beauty was promoted on both sides of the conflict as a patriotic duty. From prewar to postwar, we see attitudes emerge from period advertisements, images of real clothes, and firsthand accounts in contemporary publications. The result is a celebration of everything from practical and smart-looking attire for air raids (hooded capes with large pockets and siren suits) to street fashion and the creation of Christian Dior’s “New Look” collection in 1947.

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Review: Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look

User Review  - Goodreads

Simply the best book I've found on Wartime fashions - illustrated beautifully with great photos of authentic styles, Mr Walford successfully dispels the notion that the fashion world shut down and ... Read full review

Review: Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look

User Review  - Goodreads

Fashion in the world at war. A "siren suit" is something you grab to throw over your nightgown or pajamas while bolting for the air-raid shelter. Indeed, there's a lot about the war in here. It starts ... Read full review


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About the author (2008)

Jonathan Walford was the founding curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and a founder of the Fashion History Museum in Canada. His previous books include Forties Fashion. He lives in Canada.

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