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4.0 out of 5 stars Thesis?, 5 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Nazi 'Chic'?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich (Dress, Body, Culture) (Paperback)
Very Very academic, not for the general reader but useful piece of social history for WW2 research. Complex issues explored.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As you sew, so shall you reap, 30 Jan 2013
This review is from: Nazi 'Chic'?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich (Dress, Body, Culture) (Paperback)
Fashion is not thought a suitable subject for the serious historian. This book shows why that should change. It is a detailed analysis of the attempt to create a specific, unique style for women in Nazi Germany. The project failed - the author shows how and why. She reveals the limitations of fascist power and the reach of its ideology. She asks important questions about the place and role of women in this society, and the degree to which they really accepted "Kinder, Kirche, Kuche".
She takes the story back to the 19th century. Resentment of Parisian style had deep roots. German designers were never able to emulate the fashion houses of France. Nothing in Nazi thinking could change that. There is only so much you can do wih a dirndl.
For decades Jewish tailors in Berlin were adept at taking haute couture and making cheap mass produced copies for export. The Nazis contribution to this industry was to destroy it.
The occupation of France facilitated extensive looting by German soldiers. The plunder found its way into the wardrobes of their wives and girlfriends. These early windfalls were to be forgotten as the war continued. Scarcity of raw materials meant it was a struggle to find any clothing at all. The final form of Nazi chic was the Flickenleid, the tattered uniform of the trummerfrau.
Irene Guenther provides a wealth of information and fascinating detail. We read of the trains that took people to be gassed in Auschwitz returning laden with their clothes to German cities. Illustrations are plentiful and illuminate her argument, especially on the finer points of dress and look. The only criticism I have is that the author has a somewhat awkward way of writing - a better editor could have ironed this out. But in sum a great piece of research and analysis, thought-provoking history.
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