Come to a special tour of the exhibition French Fashion, Women, and the First World War led by curators Maude Bass-Krueger (BGC PhD 2016) and Sophie Kurkdjian. Learn about the fashions that defined this pivotal moment in French history, including never-before-seen garments from the archives of major designers such as Jeanne Lanvin and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel; mourning wear, clothing worn by nurses, ambulance drivers, and remplaçantes (women who took on jobs previously done by men who were now away at the Front). The curators will also discuss threats to France’s fashion industry, its second-largest economic driver, both then and now, and how the industry—with support from the French government and the media—maintained its significance at home and abroad. The garments, photographs, and ephemera in the exhibition create a compelling portrait of the triumphs and struggles of French women throughout the war, shedding light on their enormous contribution to the war effort, the advances they achieved the workplace, their fight for fair and safe labor conditions and the right to vote (which they did not achieve until 1945), their sacrifices and grief, and the anxiety that shifting gender roles provoked both during and after the war.

Maude Bass-Krueger is a historian who thinks and writes about visual and material culture, notably as it relates to fashion and architecture. She is currently based at the University of Leiden, where she is working on the project, Printing the Past. Architecture, Print Culture, and Uses of the Past in Modern Europe (PriArc). She received her PhD from Bard Graduate Center (2016) with a dissertation on the establishment of the discipline of dress history in nineteenth-century France. Her work on French fashion and World War I began as a master’s thesis at the Institut d’études politiques in Paris. Bass-Krueger is the author of “From the ‘Union Parfaite’ to the ‘Union Brisée’: The French Couture Industry and the Midinettes During the Great War” (Costume, 2013); co-organizer, with Sophie Kurkdjian, of an international conference called Mode, vêtement, et sociétés en Europe durant la Première Guerre Mondiale (Fashion, clothing, and society in Europe during the First World War) sponsored by the Mission Centenaire (Institut Français de la Mode, 2014) and of the exhibition Mode et Femmes, 14/18 at the Bibliothèque Forney in 2017. She also co-directs the seminar, Histoire + Mode, at the Institut d’histoire du temps present (IHTP) at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and she co-founded the project, Culture(s) de mode, which is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and Communications.

Sophie Kurkdjian
holds a PhD in history from Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, where she specialized in the history of the fashion press at the beginning of the twentieth century. Since 2012, she has been a research fellow at the Institut d’histoire du temps present (IHTP) at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), in Paris, where she co-directs a research seminar on history and fashion. In 2018, she co-created the French fashion research network, Culture(s) de Mode, in collaboration with the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Her main lines of research focus on the history of fashion media, and on the economic, social, and cultural transnational circulations which occurred in the fashion industry at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.

Leading support for Public Programs at Bard Graduate Center comes from Gregory Soros and other generous donors.