That Paris Look: 1924

That Paris Look.

Chicago Dally News:

“I have just seen Mrs. Janes,” said Mrs. Simmons’ niece as she sank wearily into a chair. “She had a new dress on. I don’t think I’d like it a bit if people copied my clothes.”

“You are not very clear in your remarks,” laughed Mrs. Simmons. “But you remind me of an incident in my girlhood that was almost a tragedy. There was a dress I designed all by myself. It was a mighty pretty girlish gown. I wore it to some entertainment at school and when the girls admired it I told them I had designed it myself and I thought it was the prettiest dress in the world.”

“I’m sure it was lovely,” said her niece.

“Three weeks after I first appeared in it,” Mrs. Simmons continued, “one of the girls whom I liked least came to me with a sort of triumphant manner and said she thought I had been boasting that my brown dress was my own design and therefore the only one of its kind. I defended my statement and she finally believed me, but told me that she had seen a white-haired woman wearing a dress of the same style. I was heartbroken and tried to think she was mistaken, but when I asked our dressmaker about it she said the woman had seen my dress and had come in and offered her such a good price to make one like it that she had done so, hoping I would never know about it.”

“Oh, the poor child!” cried her niece. “I was just wondering about whether I’d better tell what Mrs. Janes said. But I don’t know that you would mind after all.”

“Mrs. Janes is a very pleasant woman,” declared Mrs. Simmons.

“It wasn’t much,” said her niece. “She had on a new dress and she very evidently expected me to notice it, so I obligingly admired it. It was really very pretty, so I could do so truthfully, but Mrs. Janes said it did not compare with one her sister had just had made. She said that her sister had met you somewhere or other in a lovely dress that she liked extremely. She said it was one of the dresses you got in Paris last summer and was therefore just at the height of style here now, so she had her dressmaker copy it from her description.”

“That is very flattering,” said Mrs. Simmons dubiously. “It Is nice to have people like your things but I’d a little rather they didn’t copy my Paris dresses. I don’t remember where I wore that gown that Mrs. Janes saw it. Did she describe it at all?”

“She said it is dark blue with a line of red near the neck, and it has some kind of drape on the hips. She says her sister copied it exactly and is telling everybody it is a model by somebody or other in Paris. Mrs. Janes always adds that it is a copy of the model, and her sister tells people that now and makes it sound as if it were really a better thing than the original gown.”

“I never said my dresses were anybody’s model,” protested Mrs. Simmons. “Some woman at the boarding house over there told me about an inexpensive dressmaker, and I went to her to have these two dresses made, that is all. They aren’t anything much, I just wanted to get something there. But I can’t think where either of those two women saw that dress, for I have worn it only twice, and to places where they don’t go. I’ve been saving them, as I said, to use this spring.”

“Mrs. Janes said she saw it when you had it on at a meeting of the guild,” said her niece. “But her sister saw it before that and asked her to notice particularly how the sleeves were made when she saw you next, as she had forgotten them when, she saw you at Mrs. Dunbar’s mah jong party.”

“But I didn’t wear that Paris dress to Mrs. Dunbar’s. Let me think—oh yes, I did wear that blue dress with red pipings. Well, well, so Mrs. Janes’ sister copied it did she?”

“Yes, she did!” cried her niece. “And I should think you’d be awfully sore at her for it, too—your new Paris gown!”

“Oh, no, I don’t mind a bit,” chuckled Mrs. Simmons. “You see, I gave that dress to the janitor’s wife only yesterday.”

“You didn’t! And you have worn it only twice'”

“Oh, I have worn it a great deal. I had made it over three months ago from an old thing I got just before the war and I hoped it would last, but I am getting too plump for it, not to say, fat. That dress never even heard of Paris! I wonder If I haven’t some more old clothes with the Paris look?”

The Nebraska State Journal [Lincoln NE] 23 March 1924: p. 31

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: We have read in “The Lightning Adaptors of Fashion,” how Miss Billie Burke copyrighted her stage dresses so that they would not be copied. And the shockingly brazen methods of the copyists of French couture designs were exposed in “Fashion Pirates.” The practice was not confined to professionals as we see in the confessions in ‘Things I Steal,” and “The Very Worst Thing.”

Copying was, to many ladies, a harmless practice, particularly if they did not think too long or hard about the ethics of the thing. Yet there was a danger in adopting French fashions—one which was rarely mentioned in the press:

A bit of warning advice may be inserted here for the American woman shopper who believes that all French styles must needs be extreme. The absolutely sensational things now and then launched by the French dressmakers are nothing but advertisements, and they are never worn by French ladies, only by the conspicuous beauties of doubtful reputation, who are hired to display the novelties at some public function like the spring races at Auteuil or Longchamps. While it may be a temptation to copy a startling hat or gown, it is really the part of wisdom to select the quieter modes, which are just as artistic and more appropriate and which lead to no embarrassing ambiguity as to the social classification of a good-looking well-dressed American woman.

The French woman of accepted position is the model for the American woman to follow in copying French fashions. All American women intend to do this, but the majority of them make bad mistakes and innocently do themselves harm. But it is almost impossible to make the American woman realize this.

Pittsburgh [PA] Daily Post 5 July 1912: p. 8  

For what shall it profit a lady, if she shall gain an entire French wardrobe, and be mistaken for a conspicuous beauty of doubtful reputation?

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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