March 1915 saw the start of a darker phase of the War, with a loss of almost 13,000 Allied troops in two days at the battle of Neuve Chapelle. For Parisians, the war was brought to their doorsteps by large numbers of troops in the capital – awaiting deployment or recuperating from their wounds. Uniformed soldiers were given free tickets for entertainments, many of which were organised as fundraisers for hospitals and other relief efforts. Patriotic themes predominated; a melodrama about the fall of Alsace to the Germans in 1870 was revived to great enthusiasm.
Military and patriotic references predominated in the fashions for Spring 1915, as reported by Vogue on March 15:
That the war should leave its impress on the spring collections was, of course, to be expected. Bleu soldat, a delightfully soft gray blue, is among the newest colors… Modified versions of the garments worn by the soldiers of the Allied Armies are seen in almost every house in Paris. There is, after all, a reason for everything thought or said or made in Paris this year, and it is the same reason for all: c’est la guerre.
However, some of the military references were more equivocal. An alternative hat trimming to giant ‘Alsatian’ bows of black ribbon were pairs of wings arranged like an aeroplane propeller. These arrived in the shops just as Paris was subjected to a strict blackout in response to attacks by German zeppelins. Air raids on cities far from the front line (London had been bombed from the air in January 1915) meant that no civilian could feel safe from the dangers of war.