Fashion in World War I: August 1914

Les Modes, August 1914: cover

I intend to run a series of posts showing the way that fashion changed between 1914 and 1919, both in the couture system and for women working in factories or military support. I will be uploading original texts and images of historic magazines, pattern catalogues, garments, and photographs. To start off, here is a section of the Paris magazine Les Modes from August 1914, performing a neat segue from the assasination of Franz Ferdinand to the need for new frocks!

  • ‘Since Parisians, following the example of Londoners, have extended their retreat to the seaside or the country to the end of the summer, one can no longer say that the summer season finishes with the horse racing Grand Prix, for it is prolonged by lavish entertainments. One can however say that the season reaches its apogee of elegance during the dazzling week of the races: there is an apotheosis of colours and of whispers, of applause for the winners of these famous races and for their owners. We forget, for these few days, the political disagreements and the worries of the morrow; gaiety permeates the atmosphere… This year, it was not a meteorological storm that disturbed the serenity of the sky, throwing a dark cloud over the lightheartedness that usually attends the race meetings. The horrific attack on the Crown Prince of Austria and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, roused deep emotions in our hearts. We were shocked at this new drama that drenched the ancient house of Habsburg in blood; we wept for the octogenarian ruler whose heirs had predeceased him;  we meditated on the litany of martyr kings; we were revolted by the unbounded fury of murderers who assassinated not only kings but their heirs apparent.  Finally, we were particularly saddened by this tragic end to a royal love story, and by this massacre which united in death, as in life, the heir to one of the most ancient royal families of Europe and the wife whom he loved so much, even though she would not have been permitted to share his imperial crown. This attack cast a dark shadow over the brilliant Parisian social season which was drawing to a close. But the life of high society, which is so often called artificial, is like nature in that it can produce new growth and new flowers that cover any trace of past damage. Social life is starting up again, resuming its smiles and light-heartedness after the sorrowful tributes to the deceased. Social activities are resuming, showing courage in the face of this brutal assault; and the tide of fashion has started to flow again…’    (Les Modes, Paris, August 1914, p8; original in French, my tranlation)
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