Further to our recent delves into the archive of SHOWROOM Vol.I, here is a wonderful insight and example of resistance through style penned by regular contributor and ‘antiquous oracle-ius’ Simon Andrews.
FRENCH RESISTANCE – IMPOVISED STYLE IN OCCUPIED FRANCE – by Simon Andrews.
New York, August 1939, and Time magazine, reporting on the Parisian autumn collections, somewhat prosaically notes that, “whoever runs the world, Paris intends to go on making his wife’s clothes”. However, within a few months, as German forces hovered on the perimeters of France, it was clearly evident that no European city would be able to boldly claim such influence. What was to evolve, by contrast, was a hybrid yet distinct style borne from necessity and infused with covert and symbolic aspects of a defiant national identity.
Rumour has it, when Francis Ford Coppola was looking for a new film to make back in 1982, it was his daughter Sophia who recommended S.E. Hinton’s teen classic ‘The Outsiders’. Her recommendation was a winner, the all star cast and the coming of age theme, along with a classic wardrobe made it an instant hit.
Kicking off our final boots triptych, here is something for the ladies. A pair of womens ATS ( Auxiliary Territorial Service) pebble grain short lace up boots, featuring the distinctive War Department Broad Arrow, or ‘Crows Foot’, stitched into the toe. Very similar in style to our Broad Arrow’d John White boots dated 1941, these have no discernible makers name, but are War Department stamped at the ankle.
The Donkey jacket comes and goes, but only in trend. We saw a fair few Dalston Donkeys last winter (and only the lord knows what will be next over in the ephemeral East) but, to our knowledge, nobody has quite celebrated these hard-wearing British staples in quite the same manner as the seminal Tuf Work Boot Fashion Show of 1974.
Less Harry Hope’s Greenwich village flea-pit booze can and more The Vikings x Seven Samurai. This new addition to the archive is a hardcore piece. Deadstock cotton canvas shell with leather belt fastening, comes complete with original cutters tag and stencil bearing the legend “Cape Axeman 1942” with distinctive War Department broad arrow – the wearer of which would not be someone you would want to meet on a dark night axe in hand…
French vs English Hussars ‘pelisse’ tunics, although very similar in style, exhibit little continental differences, an extra swirl in the braid, astrakan trim, different buttons and intricate frogging. Our cross Channel cousins example has a certain panache, originally all black (of course) some of the braid has now faded to green, and the back calligraphy would make even Jimi Hendrix* jealous. The English version, an 11th Hussar’s Lieutenants tunic, tailored by Stohwasser & Co., exudes a certain ceremonial swagger, replete with heavy wire gold braid, in knots and swags, and a regal red satin lining.
* French Hussars Tunic.
Shining a light on recurring design details. A reinforced shoulder is an obvious functional thing that has uses in work clothing, sports, miltary and motorcycle clothing, either to protect the shoulder or the garment (areas of stress and wear) or simply from the elements, sometimes all of these.