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HomeContentsThemes > Fashion 1940-1950


334.01   Fashion 1940s
334.02   Fashion during the Second World War
334.03   Fashion during the Post-war 1940s
334.04   Fashion model - Lisa Fonssagrives
334.05   Erwin Blumenfeld and the 1940s
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
334.01   Fashion >  Fashion 1940s 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 27 slides to load.) 
Within Europe and America the 1940's were split into two very distinct parts by the Second World War - firstly there was the restrictive war period with restrictions on fabric availability and a tendency to less flamboyance as more women entered the workforce. Following the war the New Look of Christian Dior brought back high fashion with a swirling flourish.  
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Louise Dahl-Wolfe 
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Norman Parkinson 
Barbara Morgan 
George Platt Lynes 
Toni Frissell 
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Cecil Beaton 
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Fritz Henle 
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Richard Avedon 
   Fashion 1940s 
View exhibition 
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334.02   Fashion >  Fashion during the Second World War 
In 1939 the occupations and invasions of the Axis armies led increasing numbers of countries into war, devastation and occupation. By 1939 Britain and Germany were at war and America was increasingly using convoys to keep Britain supplied with essential materials. Although the Great Depression in the USA came to an end as factory production increased to supply Britain there were shortages of fabrics as the needs for military production were given increasing priority. Here a series of different factors merged to change the types of fashions, and the photography of them, during the Second World War. In Britain utility cloth was introduced in May 1941 and as women returned to the workforce they required practical clothing that was in keeping with the more austere times. By 1942 in Britain the Making of Clothes (Restrictions) Orders were in place and these restricted the amount of fabric that was to be used. Throughout Europe and America women's clothes became more tailored, used less fabric and kept decorative features to the minimum or banned them altogether. With men's clothing single breasted jackets replaced double breasted and double cuffs on shirts and trouser turn-ups were banned. With women the lengths of hems and pleats were all controlled and the cut resembled military uniforms.
Prior to the 1940's models tended to be society beauties rather than women who saw it as a possible career. This changed with John Robert Powers establishing the first model agency in California and it was in the forties that Clyde Matthew Dessner, the owner of a model agency, first used the term supermodel
334.03   Fashion >  Fashion during the Post-war 1940s 
Paris was liberated from the German army in August 1944 and General Alfred Jodl signed the surrender that ended the Second World War in Europe on 8th May 1945. Fabrics were still rationed and in short supply but there was a strong sense of better times ahead.
Christian Dior (1905-1957), with the financial backing of the textile industrialist Marcel Boussac, registered his haute couture company in October 1946 and in February 1947 had his first fashion show of his Corolla collection in a salon on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. The wasp thin waists, padded shoulders and full ankle length skirts that used twenty to forty meters of luxurious fabric were a sensation with customers who were moving out of a period of rationing. It was the influential Carmel Snow at Harper's Bazaar who termed it the New Look
334.04   Fashion >  Fashion model - Lisa Fonssagrives 
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Lisa Fonssagrives, the first supermodel, described herself as a "very good clothes hanger" and in 1950 she married the fashion photographer Irving Penn
334.05   Fashion >  Erwin Blumenfeld and the 1940s 
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Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) from the 1930's onwards with his female nude studies was using a wide variety of techniques to get the effect he required. He used experimental techniques including multiple negatives, solarization, bleaching, combinations of negatives and positives, and anything else he could think of. When he moved to Paris in 1936 he became a professional photographer, starting out with work for Votre Beaute and Verve and then moving on to Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. He was influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism and this combined with the wide variety of techniques he had mastered from his earlier nude studies made him into a master of the 1940's fashion world. His desire to innovate made him one of the first to use colour in fashion photography - and even here he saturated to colors or altered them using different films, filters and lighting gels. The model was now just one made-up component of the shot.


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Taylor, Kerry, 2013, Vintage Fashion & Couture: From Poiret to McQueen, (Mitchell Beazley) isbn-10: 1845337956 isbn-13: 978-1845337957 [Δ
Vanity Fair, 1982, Vanity Fair: Portraits of an Age 1914-1936, (Thames and Hudson) [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Brown, Susanna (ed.), 2014, Horst: Photographer of Style, (Skira Rizzoli) isbn-10: 0847844552 isbn-13: 978-0847844555 [Δ
Horst & Lawford, Valentine, 1984, Horst: His Work and His World, (Alfred A. Knopf) isbn-10: 0394521714 isbn-13: 978-0394521718 [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 
Condé Nast Art 
This the official sales arm for the photographic and art work used in the various Condé Nast publications including Vogue, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. If you wish to purchase a photographic print or discuss rights and permissions this will be a useful starting point. 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Richard Avedon  (1923-2004) • Cecil Beaton  (1904-1980) • Erwin Blumenfeld  (1897-1969) • Toni Frissell  (1907-1988) • Horst  (1906-1999) • Willy Maywald  (1907-1985) • Jean Moral  (1906-1999) • Irving Penn  (1917-2009)
HomeThemesFashion > Fashion 1940-1950 
A wider gaze

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Fashion 1940-1950

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailFashion 1940s 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (June 25, 2011)

HomeVisual indexes > Fashion 1940-1950

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailFashion: Period: 1940s 
Refreshed: 19 January 2015, 00:47
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