Most of my collecting involves USA made fashion and industry, but sometimes one just has to look at other influences to see the entire picture. If you are looking at the 1960s fashion scene, you can’t ignore what was happening in London. And even though sportswear is very often best exemplified as American, you can’t ignore the influence of Jean Patou and Coco Chanel in France in the 1920s and 30s.
Au Bon Marché dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century and was the first grand Parisian department store. It is still open as Le Bon Marché.
My catalog does not have a date anywhere, but it is from 1931 or 1932. It is full of the delightful things that make one want to pack up the automobile and head for the closest sandy beach.
The front cover folds out and the wares are displayed in a panorama with that sandy shore in the background. All the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
The men and boys are still modestly attired in their tank suits (swimming briefs were soon to make their appearance, though). What is really interesting is item number 14. This is the earliest example I’ve ever seen of a woman’s two piece suit that bares the midriff.
As expected, all the bathing suits are made from wool knit. What I found to be interesting is that three of the women’s pyjamas -17,25, and 29 – were also made from wool jersey knit. Only number 21 was made from the cotton duck cloth one would expect to find here in the States. The robes or peignoir du bains, were all made from terrycloth.
Number 24 seems to be as risque as the two piece. I’ve love to see how much of the front is exposed.
And how about the rubber swim cap the little girl in number 28 is wearing? Scottie dogs on a swim cap! Actually, all the caps are pretty incredible.
The man in his blouse et pantalon pour la peche ou le bateau could only be a Frenchman, no?
Be sure to notice how one could change the angle of the large umbrella in the center by moving the pole to a different hole.
I’ve wanted a portable gramophone ever since I first saw Sabrina and Humphrey Bogart pulled his old one out of the closet to take on his boating date with Audrey Hepburn. And while I’m fantasy shopping, I’ll also take that picnic basket.