Monday, 24 January 2011

Frenchmen's Fashions, 1947

Finding historic accounts of men's fashions can be a challenge.  For the most part, women's fashions dominate surviving records for obvious reasons: fashion has long been assumed to be a largely feminine preoccupation, women's fashions have a faster turnover of trends so there's always some new novelty to observe, and they tend to be more dramatic and eye-catching.  Equally, while a woman's appearance was (and frequently still is, sadly) considered to be the most pertinent and interesting aspect of her being, a man's appearance was taken to be the least important thing about him, unless it was particularly remarkable or curious.  Men were judged, and recorded, on different criteria - skills, talents, character, achievements - with their wardrobe coming very low on the list, if at all.

As a result, there's a real lack of detailed descriptions of everyday men's wear since it was usually considered of no importance or relevance.  Which is why this short piece, 'Frenchmen's Fashions,' published in the seventh Saturday Book in 1947, is such a treasure.  Written by Honor Tracy, it provides a precious snapshot of men's fashions in Paris in the immediate post-war period.