I made most of my selections from this postcard book based on the outfits. But in a few cases, like this one, I just loved the lady’s expression!
Lelong tailored suit, Spring/Summer 1915
As you may know, Lucien Lelong was a Paris couturier from the 1910’s through 1952. Early clients included Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson and Colette. Later, during the Nazi occupation of Paris, the regime began to confiscate production machinery, fabrics, patterns, and records, planning to move the world’s fashion capital to Berlin. They planned to relocate French designers too, to train German and Austrian dressmakers so that they would become the world’s new generation of designers. Many couturiers, like Schiaparelli, relocated to the United States, while others, like Vionnet, simply closed. As head of the city’s fashion house guild, it was up to Lucien Lelong to negotiate with the Reich if fashion was to remain in Paris. He intimidated the occupiers by describing the complexity of the business, how it couldn’t possibly be taught in a few years and how the sensibility was linked to the place. Lelong also browbeat them into leaving Paris ateliers enough fabric to maintain production, and reduced the percent of Paris garment workers the Nazi’s conscripted for labor. The occupiers had wanted to force 80% of garment workers to quit their jobs and work for the regime. Lelong got it down to 5%. And so hundreds of jobs were spared, and a pillar of French culture came out of the war alive. Not a designer, but a business man with a great eye, Lelong went on to employ France’s most promising designers, including Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy.
Callot Soeurs evening gown, Fall 1915
Another French fashion house of the time you may know, is the daintily detailed Callot Soeurs (the designers being the four Callot sisters), which enjoyed a long heyday from 1895 through 1928. (Ownership then transferred to one of the sisters’ sons, continuing until 1937.)
Tailored suit, Spring/Summer 1915
The upper corner is signed “Cheriút.” I’ve never heard of this designer/fashion house, or maybe it’s the name of the design. I couldn’t find any “Cheriút” online, so if you know, please comment!Evening gown, Fall 1915
The upper corner says “Toujours Aimé” (Always Loved), apparently the name of the design.
Afternoon gown, Spring/Summer 1915
Another mysteriously signed “Cheriút.”
Au revoir, chéri!