In the Mood: 1940s


Ellman Fashion Design Gallery
April 3, 2010 – August 15, 2010

Strong-shouldered suits with hats and gloves, and slinky, draped gowns recall the glamour of 1940s fashion. Wartime rationing created restrictions on the amount of material which could be used in a garment, and fostered an atmosphere of patriotic ingenuity and understatement. Women were encouraged to do their part to bolster moral by keeping up their appearances. Dynamic color combinations, thought to lift spirits, were an integral part of the designs and how they were accessorized. With the German occupation of France from 1940-4, many Parisian fashion houses were forced to close fostering a creative flourish in American fashion design and style.

Undertaking new roles and new uniforms in the workforce American women played a significant part in the war winning “arsenal of democracy.” From victory suits to romantic styled dresses, tailored military uniforms affected fashion both in emulation of and in counterbalance to these new roles. Hollywood movies presented a glamorized version of the war and were influential in setting style and morale.

In the Mood features over 35 fully accessorized fashion ensembles from the 1940s including works by Adrian, Irene, Claire McCardell and Howard Greer along with original military uniforms including Mainboucher’s design for the WAVEs, “Rosie the Riveter” work wear and inventive dresses and negligees made from repurposed parachutes. This installation looks at design and life on the American home front and the important role women and fashion design played in the victories of WWII.

The exhibition is organized by Phoenix Art Museum.
Support provided by Novis M. Schmitz Foundation.


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