Saturday, 6 October 2012

How the 1940s screen siren changed fashion

The 1940s saw the birth of film noir and the femme fatale. Hollywood stars like Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn and Rita Hayworth redefined the way women behaved on screen.

Video: Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946)

Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Video: Lauren Bacall in To Have and To Have Not (1944)

Fashion embraced the vampy silhouettes of film noir heroines as well as the masculine tailoring of the feisty adventuress. On the one hand you had the escapism of Hollywood sirens draped in silk - an incredibly expensive fabric during wartime - and on the other, the heroism of strong, fearless women in tailored suits and shoulder pads.

Angela Lansbury

Veronica Lake 

Lauren Bacall 

Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn

Byra Hemingway 

Wallis Simpson

Alexis Smith 

Jane Greer

A new kind elegance appeared in fashion magazines: self-assured and incredibly chic...

Vogue 1945
Vogue 1941

Vogue 1947

Vogue 1944
Vogue 1949

Dina Merrill photographed for Vogue 1944

Vogue 1945

Mademoiselle magazine, 1944

Contemporary designers return to the 1940s silhouette season after season. The strong shoulders, nipped-in waist and knee-length hemline are incredibly flattering.

Elie Saab 

Lauren Bacall 

Dior channelled Bacall's style - as well as the dramatic lighting of film noir - in their Spring 2010 campaign:

Karen Elson, W Magazine

Kate Moss

The 'novelty print' that was ubiquitous on the AW12 runways was first introduced in the wartime decade to make the most of rationed fabric.

We recently sold a stunning 1940s dress made from pale salmon-pink crepe and embellished with hundreds of matte white beads.

Miu Miu AW11

We have some beautiful 1940s dresses in dark florals, as seen at the AW11 shows. This particular frock has an amazing sash on the right hip that flutters as you walk. 

To view in our online store click here

Earlier this year we sold a 1940s red crepe dress with embellished sleeves. The shoulder pads add a dramatic silhouette. 

If you prefer this vampy look, we have a stunning 1940s cocktail frock in heart-print black silk in stock at the moment. The dress was featured in Summary Magazine as part of their film noir-themed editorial, styled by Charlie Anderson

To view the dress in our online store click here

Celebrities love the look because it's so incredibly flattering. This silhouette really does suit every shape and size.

Carey Mulligan in Roland Mouret

Zhang Ziyi

Camilla Belle

Dita von Teese

YSL Tribute pumps are the perfect accessory for this look...

To buy online click here

And here's the brilliant Pixiwoo with a Veronica Lake hair and make-up tutorial - her signature 'peekaboo' loose waves and red lips:

We have a great selection of vintage dresses online and many more in our Kings Cross studio. We are open by appointment seven days a week - to come in for a browse please get in touch via this link.

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