Photograph by Clifford Coffin for British Vogue, June 1947, at Grosvenor Square, London
Evening dress by Rahvis
I first saw this photograph in the V&A book edited by Claire Wilcox, The Golden Age of Couture, Paris and London 1947-57. It appears in the first chapter of the book and I can say that it really took my breath away.
Apart from the fact it looks so modern it could have been taken yesterday, not 65 years ago, it sends such a strong, defiant message. Taken only 2 years after the end of the Second World War, when Britain was struggling to recover from the Blitz, it sends a strong message that Britain and British fashion would not be defeated.
I love the contrast of the exquisitely draped evening gown with the model carefully standing on a piece of white paper. The bomb-damaged surroundings look as if they might collapse around her at any second - look at those dangling pieces of wood at the ceiling!
When I did a bit of research on Rahvis, the makers of the gown, I discovered that it was a fashion house based on Grosvenor Street in London, just adjacent to Grosvenor Square, where this photograph was taken.
It could be argued that it was distasteful for couture fashion houses to resume making such fashion, only available to the elite, at a time when the country was suffering so badly. But I think that this photograph is a perfect example of how fashion can be a source of pride.
What do you think?