Monday, 11 June 2012

1940s Modelling

The 1940s was a decade of turmoil across the world, and the modelling and fashion industry was no different. Non-essential business came to a stand-still during the Second World War, as everyone’s talents were ploughed into the war effort. To find out more visit

Changes in Fashion

Photographers couldn’t pursue fashion photography and many, especially women, went to the front to record battles, manoeuvres, the aftermath of bombings and the lives of ordinary people. Many photographers used these influences in their fashion photography once the war had finished, although others remained as photo-journalists.

The fashion houses remained open for as long as possible, until Paris was invaded by Germany. Several houses relocated to America and Britain, whilst others stayed open in Paris. But fabric was less easy to come by, as most of it was used for military purposes, as were the factories where mass-clothing was made. When rationing was brought in, most people could only buy certain amounts or types of clothing, and this restricted fashion for most of the decade.

New Faces

Models were still being photographed, though, and some of fashion’s most iconic pictures were taken during the 1940s. Louise Dahl-Wolfe, working for Harpers Bazaar discovered Lauren Bacall at the beginning of the decade and took pictures of women in more natural settings, and not necessarily wearing high fashion. Her photographs were seen as being essentially American, and it was during the 1940s that the USA began to rival Paris in the fashion world.

Modelling became all the rage again once the war was over, as people reacted to their years of deprivation by focusing on all things beautiful. The Paris fashion houses re-instated their collections as soon as the German occupation was over, and photographers once again began work on fashion shoots. The models were still the aristocratic and well-known; Princess Margaret, Marlene Dietrich and Margot Fonteyne, but by the end of the decade, glamour was back in, and modelling was to cease to be the preserve of the rich and famous.

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