The French fashion industry was a vital part of France’s economic and cultural identity. After the liberation of Paris in 1944 couturiers, jewelers, milliners, hairdressers and theatre set designers joined together with unprecedented cooperation and creativity to present Théâtre de la Mode (theater of fashion). Since materials were in short supply at the end of WWII, the exhibition featured miniature mannequins, or fashion dolls, to display the new designs.
These 27.5 inch mannequins with wire armatures were dressed in the most amazing fashions. The meticulous attention to detail was striking. The ensembles featured working zippers and buttons with real buttonholes. The handbags contained tiny wallets and compacts. Even miniature undergarments were crafted to go under the couture designs.
In March 1945, the Théâtre de la Mode opened with great success at the Louvre in Paris.
Photographer Béla Bernand covered the exhibition in 1945. His fascinating, previously unpublished, behind the scenes photography including close-ups of some of the costumes can be seen here.
All photos are from the Flickr Photostream of Béla Bernand.