Paper doll

Spread from French Provincial Costume bookAn exhibition called The Spirit of France toured Great Britain in 1943 and 1944.  Propaganda thinly disguised as craft and art, as it often was at that time. The exhibition featured (amongst other things, I presume) paper dolls by one Dorothy Rogers. An elusive lady.  It seems she made dioramas for the Festival of Britain (didn’t everybody do something for that?) and the dolls for this exhibition / booklet.  She must have made other things too, most intriguing.

I found a charming 1945 British Pathé film of Ms Rogers working. Lovely to find, lovely to see. She is making a Queen Elizabeth in the film. But you can also see our French Provincial ladies behind her and at the end of the film.  They look even better than in the booklet. Ms Rogers looks like a certain housekeeper in the film Rebecca. But she wields those scissors with much less malicious intent and is joy to watch. She makes it look very easy. I love the fact the beginning of the film pans over a (dog-eared, even then) copy of the King Penguin Elizabethan Miniatures book – you couldn’t make it up!

Spread from French Provincial Costume book

It never fails to amaze me that this kind of subject ran in cinemas before the main feature.  What must everyone have thought?

This dusky (OK, dirty) pink booklet has other impressive contributions. A funny, passionate foreword by doyenne (he was a man but still the word fits..) of interwar fashion history – James Laver.  And photographs by the wonderful Arpad Elfer. But more of him in another blog post, I think.

These are super colour snaps; the paper dolls stand proud on fake French beaches.  Heavy with detail – note the fishes on the dishy – and presumably representing local costumes, they look much more than the sum of their parts. Awesome stuff.

French Provincial Costume book cover

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