Category Archives: Work in Progress

Our research, our current ideas, and what we’re thinking about now

Paris, capitale prestigieuse de la mode…


Tone on tone, an image of two fashion models placed against the faded backdrop of Paris reveals multiple layers of reality, space and modernity. I discovered it as I studied materials in the archives of the Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette (GL) for my doctoral research. Included in a Spring/Summer 1956 GL catalogue, the spread followed the example of many fashion magazines that used the city of Paris in their symbolic construction of fashion. In her study of Paris fashion, Valerie Steele argues that the city had historically been the symbolic centre in the ‘geography of fashion,’ based on its ‘knowledgeable fashion performers and spectators’ and ability to stage fashion. Magazines visualised Paris’ fashion hegemony and situated their readers in the capital, in terms of current events and happenings, the actual retail locations of the pictured clothing, and, through imagery, as a fantasised or imagined place for their use. Readers of the GL catalogue, through the purchase of a relatively inexpensive ready-made dress, such as those pictured here, could themselves access the privileged spaces of the capital. Yet the soft rendering of Paris, in the style of aquarelle paintings sold to tourists, transformed the city into a mirage. Removed by a colour tone, the dresses – in their all-over printed, floral-patterned fabric made of synthetic “Poplin nylon” – expressed a similar falseness. Plus, the artificial quality of the models – pert yet frozen in space – was reinforced by clothing that hindered movement, and contained the body through buttons, belts, and underskirts.

The models are posed as friends, shoppers and tourists, and, sandwiched between the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Cœur, connected different ends of Paris. The shop was in fact located between these two Parisian sites, and was itself a veritable stop in tourism itineraries as fashion was ingrained in Paris’ cultural heritage. Another guide published several years earlier by the department store Printemps titled Notre beau Paris…et ses Environs listed Paris’ sites and monuments amid advertisements of the city’s shops and artisans. Like the GL catalogue, the cover, which de-contextualised these places and pictured them atop clouds, mythologized the city and the act of shopping, and made Paris readable. This visualisation of the city was especially comforting in view of the changes taking place in the city. From the 1950s Paris was characterised by the growth of mass motorised transport, large-scale urbanisation, the demolition of old working-class quarters, and a large push to the city’s periphery and new suburbs. And filtered through traditional views of Paris, fashion, with its ever-changing nature and increasing industrialisation in the 1950s, allowed women to safely experience modernity.

These ‘contained’ images depicted Paris as a boutique whose objects for sale – women, clothing and city – were neatly encapsulated in a picture. Other catalogue images of models posed next to shop mannequins bridged the gap between outdoor city and indoor shopping space. The stylised gestures of the living models aligned them to their plastic counterparts and both became commoditised and imbued with Paris’ magic, as Agnès Rocamora has described the trope of La Parisienne in fashion magazines. The lines between shopping, looking and being seen were thus blurred in the catalogue’s amalgamation of street and vitrine.


Thanks to Florence Brachet Champsaur for allowing me to visit the archive and show the images here.


Rocamora, A. (2009) Fashioning the City: Paris, Fashion and the Media. London; I B Tauris, p. 99.

Steele, V. (1988) Paris Fashion: A Cultural History. New York: Oxford, pp. 7, 137, 135.

Installing ‘Winter Mode’ at Somerset House

1 - An empty vitrine
An empty vitrine…
2 - Objects and condition reports
Objects and condition reports
3 - Conservator Frances Halahan and co-curator Alexis Romano look over condition reports
Conservator Frances Halahan and co-curator Alexis Romano look over condition reports
4 - Co-curator Alexis Romano arranging the display
Co-curator Alexis Romano arranging the display
5 - Under glass! The final display awaiting wall text…
Under glass! The final display awaiting wall text…

I must admit, rather unprofessionally perhaps, that I was like a child on Christmas day during yesterday morning’s installation of Winter Mode, a display that I am curating with Dr Rebecca Arnold and Alexis Romano for Fashioning Winter at Somerset House. We had decided on our object list, approved labels, wrote condition reports and even devised a ‘dress rehearsal’ (see Alexis’s blog post from 4th November) well in advance of installation, but we had never seen all of these components come together.

We started our day by going over the contents of our to-do list, which we proceeded to tick off one by one. The two book cradles that Kate Edmondson, The Courtauld’s paper conservator, kindly made for us were ready. They were waiting for us at the studio, along with the two books they were designed to hold. We headed back to Rebecca’s office where we very carefully laid out all of the objects, to go over our sequence and arrangement one last time. This gave us the opportunity to make sure that we had the right viewing dynamic, with the different illustrations’ subjects connecting with one another through the direction of their gaze and body language. All of the fashionable ladies featured in the display are engaged in the act of looking, either at themselves, at art objects or at a winter scene, as if illustrators sought to remind their viewers of their own tendencies. We aimed to highlight this and to animate the display through their interaction.

At two o’clock we headed to the East Wing of Somerset House with boxes in tow, to find the empty vitrine waiting to be filled. Once Shonagh Marshall and Susan Thompson (head curator of Fashioning Winter and Somerset House exhibitions organiser, respectively) had arrived, we began by placing the textile panel, bound in a lovely Christopher Farr fabric, in the display case. Conservator Frances Halahan then carefully cleaned the surface so that no dust or microscopic insects would endanger the magazines once under glass. We then proceeded to arrange objects according to our well rehearsed plan and matched them up with their respective condition report so that Frances could verify our details’ accuracy.

Once the object labels arrived we reached the penultimate stage of installation; all that remained to do was meticulously review every arrangement before placing the glass over the display. We commissioned captions to look like vintage price tags in order to emphasise that, for many viewers, looking at these illustrations was like window-shopping. They are labelled according to one of three themes: Fashion, Sport, Battling the Elements. These refer not only to the scenes depicted, but also to the sense that each illustrator tried to convey to viewers: the thrill of ice-skating or the comfort of a warm coat on a frosty winter afternoon, for example.

With everything in position and checked, technicians expertly lifted and placed the glass over the case. As Shonagh pointed out, there is something quite satisfying about this final stage of installation. The glass seals and protects the objects, which will stay in place until the exhibition closes. Visitors are now welcome to move around, lean in close, and inspect the display. We hope you will enjoy Winter Mode!

We would like to thank the staff at Somerset House and at the Courtauld Institute of Art for their generous help on the day and leading up to the exhibition.

Exhibition update: Goodbye summer, hello winter! Planning ‘Winter Mode’

Co-curator Fruzsina Bekefi puts together a mock display

As they design fashion collections, with their clear link to upcoming seasons, designers must continually have the impression of being projected into the future. Fashion’s futurity affects shoppers too, who imagine their bodies in clothing that relates to seasonal elements. Co-curating the display Winter Mode (with Dr Rebecca Arnold and Fruzsina Befeki), one of the exhibitions that constitute Fashioning Winter at Somerset House, has resulted in a similar detachment between present and future for me. Summer and now autumn has been winter focused, as our display explores wintry fashion illustrations from the 1910s and 1920s, and specifically, how illustrators connected the subject to her environment, and represented at once the style, modernity, warmth and comfort of winter dress.

And as a rather warm autumn lingers, installation has already begun! While we, along with head curator Shonagh Marshall and dress historians such as Amy de la Haye, install our individual displays, technicians work to erect the ice skating rink that has inhabited the courtyard of Somerset House for fifteen years each winter. Both rink and exhibition open to the public on 11th November.

Although our installation is only two days away, there is still much to do. Our display showcases the fashion journals Gazette du Bon Ton, Femina and Journal des dames et des modes, and we’ve chosen the individual fashion plates as they relate to our three themes: The Elements, Fashion and Sport. We decided on the content months ago, but we must constantly adapt and adjust the display in view of issues that arise, relating to conservation or to display case constraints for example. And as display objects change so must our overall aesthetic. In the above photograph taken several weeks ago Fruzsina works on one of our mock exhibits! We are especially thankful to Antony Hopkins, Kilfinan Librarian, Head of Book, Witt and Conway Libraries at the Courtauld Institute, and Kate Edmondson, Paper Conservator at the Courtauld Gallery, for their support and guidance during this process.

Each journal on display will be identified by a caption that recalls an antique price tag, which we hope will carry viewers to a figurative shopping space, embellished by layers of history. And although they won’t be able to handle the journals on display, we’ve created a booklet for them to touch and peruse, with the help of the exhibition designer Amy Preston. It is our abstract interpretation of a historic fashion journal, and includes a fashion plate, editor’s letter, and other surprises. Will this intimate interaction heighten readers’ bodily sense of setting, and plunge them into winter? And those who attend some of the exhibitions’ associated events, such as our December workshop, will obtain their very own copy!

Favourite Online Resources

Fashion Horizons
Fashion Horizons 1940, Prelinger Archives
Zam Buk - Wellcome
Zam Buk advertisement, Wellcome Collection.

As the new academic year starts, we got together to choose some of our favourite online and digital resources for researching dress history.  We wanted to share these with you, and to give you examples of some of our best finds amongst the rich selection of material each resource contains. Hope you enjoy exploring them, as much as we do.

Alexis: I discovered, the site of the Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA), as I conducted research for my thesis on French culture and ready-made dress from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. The site, which archives a wide range of contemporary and historical materials, including interviews, television episodes, documentary film and radio reports, and fashion shows, has enriched my research, which is based on more typical textual and visual sources. One example of a chance discovery that provides insight into the period is a news report from 1974 that discussed the couture trade syndicate’s acceptance of ready-to-wear designers. Its mix of current affairs, industry, women, fashion imagery, and Paris scenery brings together many of the components of my research.

Katerina: My favourite online research resource is WorldCat, a database that connects you to both bibliographic and archival material on a subject. It’s especially useful if you’re looking up a person, because it can advise you about where their archives are located, or about lesser known, but relevant articles on them. During the course of my PhD research I wanted to find out about the photographer Alexey Brodovitch’s activity as a designer in 1920s Paris, but all the publications I had encountered overlooked this phase in his career. When I looked up ‘Alexey Brodovitch’ on Worldcat however, it brought up Nathalie Cattaruzza’s work on Brodovitch’s early career.

Liz: Berg Fashion Library (BFL) is an online reference resource distributed by Oxford University Press to academic subscription holders. The Courtauld Library holds a subscription to BFL, through which I can view the entire series of Berg Encyclopedia of World Fashion and Dress, countless e-books, extra reference resources and numerous images. These subjects can all be searched for by place, date, or key terms. BFL is always my first port of call for my own research, which has encompassed Morocco, Africa, Japan and Brazil. I find it particularly useful given the extensive attention paid to Western but also non-Western modes of everyday and high-end fashion and dress.

Rebecca: The resource I return to again and again – for work and pleasure – is the Prelinger Archives. This has an extensive collection of non-fiction films that can be watched online, downloaded and reproduced free! It’s a really exciting collection, one favourite is Fashion Horizons from 1940. This is a travelogue that shows Hollywood starlets modelling contemporary fashions, as they travel by plane to various landmarks in America. The film is in colour, and gives a really good idea of attitudes to modernity, luxury, ethnicity and gender just before America entered the war.

Lucy: Wellcome Images is the online counterpart to the Wellcome Collection, one of London’s most unique and diverse museums. It hosts a broad and endlessly fascinating range of images that explore the human experience through life, death, the body, art, and more. For my research, its medical and military material helps me to contextualise ways violence encroached upon fashion during the interwar period. The resource also reveals examples of this phenomenon, such as a 1930s Zam Buk advertisement. Here, the isolation of body parts upon a black background participates in a post-First World War trend that I have identified, towards fragmentation in fashion and beauty.

Motion, modernity and flux in Thayaht’s illustrations of Vionnet fashions

Gazette du Bon Ton
1923, no. 1, plate 3
Gazette du Bon Ton
1923, no. 2, plate 10
Gazette du Bon Ton
1924, no. 6, plate 29
Gazette du Bon Ton
1924, no. 7, plate 35

Recently, I’ve been looking through the copies of Gazette du Bon Ton in our collection, trying to find some cold-weather fashions for our upcoming display for Somerset House’s Winter Festival. In the process, I have come across several plates drawn by Futurist artist Thayaht for couturier Madeleine Vionnet. As those of you who have met me will know, Vionnet is a long-term obsession of mine. I find her work endlessly fascinating, and seeing the ways that Thayaht sought to represent her quintessentially three-dimensional designs is itself an absorbing topic.

Vionnet created her clothes in the round – working on a miniature mannequin to wrap specially woven textiles around the figure – and this makes her designs particularly difficult to capture in two-dimensional form. Unlike many designers, she never sketched her ideas first. And she didn’t divide up the body into back and front, sleeves and bodice etc. This means her garments enveloped the wearer – and curved around the body. She looked carefully at the anatomy and worked with the fabric’s bias to construct garments that floated just above the skin. This brought focus to, for example, the small of the back or the hipbones – areas that other designers tended to skim over. This sensual approach to body and fabric worked well in photographs, where live models could show the garments in movement, and the viewer could see how Vionnet’s work fitted to the body. But it was harder to translate into flat drawings.

This is where her close collaboration with Thayaht comes in. Working with a Futurist – who was himself interested in the relationship between dress and body, and who wanted to convey the moment – motion, modernity and flux – meant a close connection in themes and approach. These preoccupations made them a very good match for each other, since representation – whether in fabric or fashion drawing – was for them a means to explore what it was to be modern, and how this could be conveyed through contemporary art and design.

The images above show how this was achieved. Thayaht used a simple colour palette – as did Vionnet – so as not to distract from the overall form. He used force lines that reached out from the body into the surrounding space – to connect body to place and show how movement and form were linked through Vionnet’s designs. Whether at the theatre, swathed in furs, or on the links, playing golf, women inhabited space in new ways during the early 20th century. His drawings conveyed environment and emotion, too: dark clouds, that mirrored a dress’ smoky greys or a model’s flushed cheeks and anticipatory glance, that connected the blacks and reds of a dress to lush curtains and contrasted with electric lighting’s acid yellow at the theatre. Vionnet’s designs constructed new femininities and Thayaht’s drawings combined avant-garde art and design to demonstrate the effect this had on women, fashion and the spaces they inhabited.

Winter Modes

Georges Barbier, ‘Pour St. Moritz…’ illustration from Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1. Feb. 1913.

Although summer is well under way, a few of us are already thinking several seasons ahead. Our department has been asked to contribute to Somerset House’s Winter Festival exhibition, which will feature a series of small displays on the theme of winter and fashion. Due to run from December 2014 – February 2015, this promises to be an exciting project and we are delighted to be involved.

Using our Dress History Collections, we have decided to focus on showcasing fashion magazines from the 1910s and 1920s. The imagery in publications, such as the Gazette du Bon Ton and the Journal des Dames et des Modes, built on women’s everyday experience, while simultaneously inviting them to enter a realm outside of the quotidian through lush depictions of fashion.

Our display will explore the dichotomy of function versus fantasy, through the journals’ illustrations of winter clothing and activities. So far, we are in the initial planning stages of the project, but we will update you with the progress we make on a regular basis. Keep your eyes peeled for some magnificent illustrations from the likes of Iribe and Thayaht!

Dress in Autobiography and Autobiography in Dress: A Brief Exploration of Irene Castle’s Dress in Castles in the Air


“The clothes I wore were practical for me and that is the reason I wore them,” explained ragtime social dancer Irene Castle in her memoir and autobiography Castles in the Air. An icon of the Progressive Era, Irene is remembered primarily for her energetic yet graceful steps, which she performed alongside husband and dance partner Vernon. Their work contributed to the rise of the exhibition ballroom dance craze across America, Britain, and France during the 1910s. However, reading her autobiography revealed that, in addition to her role in dance, Irene also introduced significant clothing innovations with her signature flowing silk chiffon gown (seen in this video). Her detailed and expressive writing about dress also suggested that her interest in fashion equalled or even surpassed her love of modern social dancing. Through a closer look at Castles in the Air, we see how autobiography became a tool for documenting Irene Castle’s fashion, and, perhaps more significantly, we gain an understanding of how dress might offer insight into the dancer’s life and identity.

At the beginning of their career, Irene and Vernon struggled financially and, during their debut performance at the Café de Paris – “the finest supper club in Paris” – Irene wore her white crepe de Chine wedding dress, as it was the only evening gown in her possession. Such biographic details allow readers to visualise how the Castles’ rose from meagre middle-class beginnings to deliver a breakthrough performance that ultimately launched their dancing career. Yet, despite the imminent success that awaited her, that evening Irene recalled feeling “out of place… in a room where any woman was wearing a quarter of a million dollars in jewelry”. This more personal rumination demonstrated how Irene initially viewed fashion as a symbol of status and wealth, an aspirational fantasy that, according to theatre historian Marlis Schweitzer, many middle- and working-class women shared during the Progressive Era as the rise of the department store and live mannequin parade made fashionable goods more visible and accessible to a wider group.

After the Café de Paris, the Castles’ numerous appearances in nightclubs, theatrical productions, and films greatly increased the couple’s fame, but Irene continued to wear her iconic chiffon dance frocks, despite the reigning popular fashion for the narrow hobble skirt, favoured by designers such as Paul Poiret. By the summer of 1913, as exhibition ballroom dance became the popular choice in evening entertainment in the urban centres of New York, London, and Paris, the dancer remembered that her “Castle frock [simultaneously] became the vogue” in dress among prominent society women and middle-class working girls who aspired to be modern and fashionable. These comments alluded to the idea that Irene’s dress was imitated internationally. However, despite her role as a fashion icon, the dancer insisted: “I had no idea of influencing anybody else’s fashions when I changed my own clothes… I could not dance in a hobble skirt…, therefore I wore simple flowing gowns that would leave my legs free.” This statement suggested that Irene aimed primarily to fashion herself in her own image, aligning herself with other Progressive Era women who gained independence and freedom of expression from the suffrage movement and growing female educational opportunities.

It is my hope that this brief examination of Castles in the Air will offer insight into Irene Castle’s personal relationship with fashion and lead to a broader understanding of how autobiography can be a useful tool for studying dress history.

To read Irene’s autobiography, click here.


Castle, I. (1980) Castles in the Air, New York: DaCapo Press.

Schweitzer, M. (2011) When Broadway was the Runway: Theater, Fashion, and American Culture, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

Troy, N. J. (2003) Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion, Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

‘Bravo la confection française!’ Researching French Ready-to-wear, 1947-1957


Dress, collection of the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, Palais Galliera, Paris.
Dress, collection of the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, Palais Galliera, Paris.


On 11 April 2014 I presented a paper at ‘Couture, Fashion and Consumption: Britain/France, 1947-1957’ held at Paris’ Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent (CNRS). This was the latest study day in the ongoing cross-cultural collaboration between dress history researchers from the IHTP and the University of Brighton. The following extract is the introduction to my paper, entitled, “Bravo la confection française! Researching French Ready-to-wear, 1947-1957: Industry, Modernity, and the Image of Women.”

In the 1 October 1956 issue of Elle, fashion editor Claude Brouet wrote: “Bravo la confection française! The bet is won. Won by the young industrialists of ‘Prêt à Porter’ who rescued French confection from its routine.” The accompanying photograph presented a model who wore a gray-brown wool coat by Albert Lempereur, an important proponent of ready-to-wear and then president of its trade organisation, the Fédération Française des Industries du Vêtement Féminin. The model followed the speed and direction of modernity, evoked by blurred horizontal lines that represented the frenzied mass-populated city of Paris. With her legs cropped out of the photo frame, the reader could not tell if she was caught in mid-step, moving with the times, or caught off-guard, slowing down in fear. The image captured well the electric push to modernise both industry and city and presented fashion that would parallel it. However, in contrasting sharp focus, the model seemed to exist outside of modern time. Rather than resist its thrust, uncertain, she questioned the move forward. Her stance could be seen to reflect France’s contradictory reception of its abrupt post-war modernisation, which, as Kristin Ross noted, was “experienced for the most part as highly destructive, obliterating a well-developed artisanal culture.” Prêt-à-porter, a product of the industry that perturbed mainstream notions of French artisanal production, was directly implicated in the country’s reconstruction. Articles in the fashion press, such as this one, which insisted on the success of French confection, thus sought to combat those views against modernity, but simultaneously laid bare a host of contradictions through their visual hesitancy and contrivance.

The French ready-made clothing industry during the Fourth Republic developed against the backdrop of heightened modernisation in terms of industrialisation, women’s lives, and France’s physical landscape, characterised by large-scale urbanisation. Images in the fashion press used ‘blurred’ photographic techniques, such as these, to depict the changing city that, from the 1950s was characterised by a new energy after its occupation during the war. The growth of mass motorised transport from the late 1950s, largely out of sight during the war and in the years following it, was a tangible reminder of urbanity. Such photographs “that achieve a truly dynamic movement,” as Christine Moneera Laennec has argued in relation to 1930s fashion photography, “work in such a way as to evoke various mechanized processes, not the least of which was the mass production that by this time had become central to the fashion industry.” Clothing and women were conflated with the automobile, the period symbol for urban, speedy modernity and the consumer object that most clearly referenced industrialised assembly-line production; which the repetitive imagery of models visualised. Certainly, the magazine’s distinctive use of highly saturated colour photography had as much to do with Roland Barthes’ characterisation of Elle as “a real mythological treasure” as the subjects it portrayed so that dressed bodies became shiny, streamlined, “magical” goods.

Women in this decade were also objectified through their clothing, with, according to Rebecca Arnold, “focus placed on a hard body created by corsetry and shiny dress fabrics that suggested a metallic finish and touch.” A dress sold at the fashionable boutique, Claude Mérel, with its crisp synthetic material veiled under a printed pattern of flowers, intimated painterly, handcrafted creation. Similarly, the boutique’s label hid any trace of a manufacturer. The dress implied a lavish, historic femininity with its voluminous skirt and large collar, which, in contrast, recalled men’s suits and workwear. Freedom of movement to work however, was repressed and contained through the dress’s construction: besides a small zipper at its side waist, the garment had no opening and included a belt for the body’s further containment. Magazines’ new construction of fashion and femininity, as seen above, negotiated components of industrial modernity and disseminated them in relation to prêt-à-porter and the image of women. Yet, as suggested by the Claude Mérel dress, postwar femininity was a site of contradiction, comprising a mixture of identities. This paper asks how the history of postwar French ready-to-wear can shed light on several contradictory narratives and, therefore, the transitional, dual nature of the 1950s, a period that encompassed limitations and possibility, modernity and tradition, flux and stasis.


Arnold, R. (2013) “Wifedressing: designing femininity in 1950s American fashion,” in Adamson, G. and Kelley, V. eds., Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish and the Meaning of Objects, Manchester: Manchester University, p. 127.

Barthes, R. (2009 [1957]) Mythologies, London: Vintage Books, pp. 89, 101-103.

Laennec, C. M. (1997) “‘The Assembly-Line Love Goddess’: Women and the Machine Aesthetic in Fashion Photography, 1918-1940,” in Wilson, D. S. and Laennec, C. M., eds., Bodily Discursions: Genders, Representations, Technologies, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York, p. 89.

Ross, K. (1995) Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture, Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT, p. 22.

Fashion, Violence, and Colour: Interwar Modernity as an Assault to the Eyes

Maddening Hues


In 1923, the Gazette du Bon Ton employed what they termed a ‘Professor of
Colourism’ to provide advice for an article entitled ‘Dangerous and Virtuous Colours’.
Set upon a solid background of vivid, mustard yellow, the text and accompanying line
drawing, both printed in strong black, create a stark contrast, and subsequently
jarring visual sensation for the reader. Could this uncomfortable viewing be an
example of the danger of colour referred to by the article? Can colour perform an
assault on the senses in this way? If this explains the Gazette du Bon Ton’s
reference to danger, what, then, associates colour with the journal’s second
description, of ‘virtuous’? Such ideas on colour were not obscure, and in fact
appeared over a range of contemporary media, particularly the fashion press. Two
years later, in 1925, for example, Vogue mused that ‘there is… a touch of the
soldier’s swagger… of flaunting danger… in red hats.’ It proposed, then, that colours
have an ability to project characteristics. In this case, the characteristics were
associated with military violence, closely connected to the recent experience of the
First World War.

The aftermath of the war had a huge impact on the advertising of skincare products.
In the immediate post-war years, beauty advertisements engaged with women’s
wartime experiences, appealing to notions of wounds and trauma on a psychological
level. They presented the enticing image of peaceful care, healing and wholeness,
taking direct visual inspiration from new developments in medicine. However, this
caring image of comfort soon placed women in potentially threatening situations, and
a new, medicalised and violent aesthetic, which I term ‘beauty doctoring’, both
appealed to, and exploited, women’s war-invoked vulnerabilities.

In the years following, the impact of violence upon beauty advertising did not
diminish. References to colour and its potential dissonant danger appeared
frequently, particularly from the mid-1920s onwards, which coincided with
developments, and the increasing presence of colour, in beauty, fashion, and culture
– including publishing, photography, and film – alike. Women’s changing role amongst
this led to new methods of both their perception and self-agency, and within this,
colour played a crucial role.

Gazette du Bon Ton, No. 5, 1923.
US Vogue (1st March, 1925).