(Originally blogged October 29, 2008)
Forgive the blatant self-promotion with this post as I herald the release date of my latest book. I have always found the Second World War a fascinating topic but our connection to that period of history dissipates as that generation passes away. Although I came from a family who were too old or too young for military service, their wartime stories never bored me. An aunt who had married a Norwegian ship captain was caught by the unexpected Nazi invasion of Norway and ended up living most of the war in a ski cabin while her husband worked for the underground. A great aunt, who had worked as a nurse during the Great War, was living in Honolulu when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred; she volunteered her services to help the injured sailors. My father, who was a teenager at the time, worked in the kitchens of a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers who were labouring as lumberjacks in Northern Ontario for the duration.
My calling is fashion history, so rather than write a general book about World War II, my interest is in uncovering the story of fashion during the war. What I felt was lacking was a book that showed how civilian fashions varied because of wartime restrictions in designs and materials. The war experience differed according to who and where you were – women in Paris, London, Berlin, and New York were dressing in different ways because of how the war was affecting them and which materials they were limited to using.
The last chapter of the book is devoted to the postwar reconstruction of the fashion industry and how the New Look myth was born. I was never a fan of the New Look gospel. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly admire Christian Dior’s work, but his 1947 silhouette was not the earth shattering revelation as is often reported.
The book uses original garments, period fashion illustrations, and accounts from those who were there to bring to life the varied experiences of fashion in a time of crisis. I hope you enjoy the book and make it a Christmas gift to all your friends!
Some nice reviews: