In September of 1939 Germany invaded Poland, Great Britain and
France declared war on Germany, and the Second World War began.
For the next six years the fact of war ruled the lives of people
throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and North
Fashion had its place, even in wartime. In France, most couture
houses kept going until the German army occupied Paris. Some couturiers
then closed down, while others changed location. Mainbocher, an
American, went back to New York City and reestablished his house
there. Elsa Schiaparelli came to New York during the war but reopened
her house in Paris in 1945. Edward Molyneux went back to London.
Many houses, however, felt that keeping their employees working
in Paris would safeguard them from forced labor in war industries.
The United States did not enter the war until December of 1941;
more than two years after it had begun. Until then, some Paris fashion
trends were followed in the States, but travel difficulties meant
that many American designers received more attention from the press
than ever before.
In all the countries at war, fashion took second place to providing
basic necessities to the men and women in the armed forces. Many
factories were given over to producing military supplies. The remaining
fashion houses worked with restrictions on how much fabric could
be used in any garment, and consumers had to fit clothing into their
allotments of ration coupons.
Even before the war was over, in August of 1945 (with the surrender
of Japan) Paris couturiers had begun to bring French fashion back
into the forefront of style. As soon as Paris was liberated by Allied
forces, fashion editors began to show French designs again in magazines.
By 1947, when Christian Dior reacted against the deprivation of
the war years by showing his "New Look," which drastically lengthened
and widened skirts, the Paris couture was again the leader. American
ready-to-wear fashion, however, had become very important, and American
designers had begun to take a more prominent place in the world
>> read on about The
Early Days of the Business