Saturday, February 08, 2014

Weekend Eye Candy - Mathilde Geral, 1939

Mathilde Geral.  I'd never heard of this French couture house and in doing research, I can only find mention of the designer in 1938 and 1939. The house was located on the Place Vendome in Paris.  Since Paris was occupied by the Germans staring in 1940, one can only guess what happened to the designer.  Geral's business did not survive the war.  I know nothing else, but if anyone out there can provide more information, please do so in the comments.

This stunning one shoulder gown from 1939 has a huge silk tulle skirt accented with velvet petals and a large silk tulle flower at the neckline. 

Photo by George Saad for L'Art et la Mode, 1939.


Lauriana said...

I'm sorry to say I don't have any information to add about the designer. Unfortunately, Paris couture houses were not as strictly organized before the Second World War as they were after. I only know her name doesn't appear on the list of former members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (which was established in 1945) so the house didn't last throughout the was/ started again after it.

However, I feel obliged to point out that the wording in this blog post suggests that Paris was occupied by the Germans in 1938 and 1939. Which it obviously wasn't. WW2 officially started on 1 September 1939, with the German invasion of Poland. There was no fighting in western Europe until the next year and Paris fell on 14 June 1940. Unlike a part of France, it became occupied territory and remained so until it was liberated in August 1944 (see:
In 1940, after the occupation of Paris, there was a German plan to move the haute couture industry to Berlin to make that the fashion capital of the Third Reich. Officials of the French couture houses managed to convince the occupation government that there was an essential link between the city of Paris and its fashion industry so it could not be moved. Quite a few couture houses closed their doors during the German occupation, but others did not and tried to make the best of a very difficult situation (there are plenty of sources for historical information about it, but I don't know any online ones which I could link to).

If the house of Mathilde Geral only existed in 1938 and 1939, it is possible that it closed well before the war came to France. Of course, it's also possible that the couturier had reasons to stop her business in the atmosphere of growing political tension of 1939 (maybe she was of German descent, despite the names, many of haute couture's stars weren't French. Or Jewish, in which case she may have been worried enough about the nazi thread to leave continental Europe by early 1940…)

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

Thank you for pointing out my error Lauriana. I have corrected the post. That is what I get for writing a blog post quickly on a Saturday morning!

Blondie! said...

I wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I'm constantly expanding my knowledge of fashion history thanks to your well written posts and glorious photos.
I wonder if Madame Gerel emigrated, closed her house and worked for someone else, gave up her career for marriage, or... it's an interesting mystery.

Lauriana said...

Thank you for the quick reply. And my apologies for letting loose the huge history geek inside me.
The truth is, I love your posts about historical fashion houses and have learned a lot from them. I'm very impressed with your research and the quality of the information in any post. Which must be why this odd error stood out so much in my eyes.

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