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Modes and Mannequins

Modes and Mannequins

Oleh Max Boy

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Modes and Mannequins

Oleh Max Boy

105 pages
1 hour
Oct 15, 2018


First published a year after World War II ended, this fictional text was written for a generation of women starved by war rationing of both clothing and makeup. Speculation on the true identity of the author takes in Norman Hartnell and Edward Molyneaux.

Written in the format of a fashion show, the fantastical narrative describes a stream of mannequins as they step onto the catwalk, each bedecked in robes made from yards of silk, velvet and brocade, in a myriad of colours. The reader is invited to sit back on an apple-green taffeta settee, in a beautiful Salon with its roses and crystal pendants, and enjoy the show. The intention is pure pleasure, and the dresses are ‘designed for the occasion’.
Oct 15, 2018

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Published under the pseudonym Max Boy

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Modes and Mannequins - Max Boy



This is a book without chapters, but I hope that the story within its pages shall not appear to you without incident. As far as I am aware, the idea of presenting – in cold black-and-white print – a parade of dresses for the entertainment of a reader is a new one, but I may be wrong in this matter; however, the cost of producing it in this form is certainly the most practical at the present time; but if the film people can make it more acceptable and colourful at a later date (and there is every possibility that they may attempt to do so) that will be their business.

First of all – just think of it – we can use as much cloth as we like, for the supply of material in yards is without limitation as far as we are concerned! Also, the ladies of the parade can be just as slim – or as bulky – as we like to imagine them, and there shall be no disapproving censor at the showing to inform us that such and such a thing is cut away too much at such and such a place, or that we have been too extravagant in allowing so much stuff for one gown. . . . No, the creations shall appear just as they have been originally evolved – without any sort of interference from anyone – and if I hear your approval, or disapproval, at the presentation of each model, I shall feel that the work has been justified, for the fact that you have remained to take notice – one way or the other – shall convey to me that your interest has been held.

Please be comfortable and at ease before we start. A famous House would most certainly employ people to help you to this state. Alas, the best that I can do meantime through this medium is to mention it. It is quite a private show and we are just on our own – apart from the girls. Are you ready? Very well then; just try to imagine that we are there, in this beautiful Salon. It is a very large room and the walls and ceiling are of glossy cream-colour. These walls are high, and from the centre of the ceiling is suspended the electric fitting of crystal pendants. It hangs by a thick cord of blue silk, the tassel of which is far from our reach. The ‘candle’ shades on the fitting are, of course, silk, and the colour of putty. They are bound with silver.

This artificial illumination is required just now, for the powder-blue velvet curtains have been drawn; but the room is not bright, and everything is quiet. The fitted carpet is grey. There is very little of anything in the room now. A few gold chairs and three very large settees covered loosely with apple-green taffeta. The cushions on these are numerous and are in the rose-Dubarry shades: they are velvet. A low, frosted-glass table of great circumference supports a silver rose bowl in which are these flowers of the cream and pink shades. There are no ash trays, for smoking is not usual here.

At the far end of the room there are double doors through which means the mannequins will make their entrance, and these ladies will walk towards us very slowly and gracefully, and we shall have the opportunity of close-up inspection when they arrive beside us. Not one shall remain longer than is called for, and shall make her exit through the small door at our left.

The time is your favourite hour of the day and you have leisure. The clothes that I am going to try and describe for you are not for sale, so you may feel quite at ease on this matter – you will not be approached by anyone at this Salon to buy. For this reason, many of the gowns will be very expensive and just as costly as my imagination cares to make each appear. Some will certainly be inexpensive – none, I trust, will be cheap.

Again, please be comfortable, and when you are in need of some other diversion just let me know, for the parade can quite easily wait, and only commence again when it is your wish.

If you, dear Madame, are a lady inclined to stoutness, please do not stay away for fear of seeming out of place in this setting. Without you, there would be no inspiration to design clothes that are slimming. Please do not wear black at every possible occasion. Remember that rooms in these times are mostly light in colour – like the one I have so recently described – and your black, which you had so carefully selected with the object of hiding your size, is silhouetted most noticeably under the circumstances. Black is the most difficult ‘colour’ for any woman to wear, and should only be worn by the very young, fair and lovely. Others may tell you differently, but this is my opinion.

Would you like some music? Perhaps in the meantime it will be better to preserve quietness, but, if sometime later sound can help the effect, and I believe that it can, I shall not hesitate to introduce it!

I have arranged for the girls to start with a few simple frocks with perhaps a wedding gown here and there – just to see how we get along. Please be confident that all the workmanship is of the best. The sewing is by hand, and I have personally seen flat-irons used for pressing. When I tell you that a garment is tailored and fitted, it certainly has been made to measure, and will only appear perfectly correct on one body – the one it was made for. The girls are all happy in their work, and I shall look forward to seeing a smile here and there. Some of the dresses are ‘sensible,’ and some are made ‘just for fun’. Let us take a peep, shall we?


The doors open quickly, and there, standing at the far end of the room, is a mannequin clothed in a sunny colour. Now she has commenced to walk towards us, and as she approaches I am more able to distinguish detail and also describe her clothes for you. We refer to a programme at hand and are informed that the material is a crêpe. The girl is wearing a simple suit of this material in the colour of pale primrose. The skirt is short and not wide, but I see no pleats to facilitate walking; however, perhaps they are there although they are not seen, for the mannequin appears to have no difficulty in walking the length of the room. The revers of the little close-fitting jacket show white velvet, and the young lady wears a white felt hat, minus any form of trimming other than its beautiful shape, but light blonde hair is noticeable and the picture is altogether very charming. I see that her shoes are court shape and of black patent leather. Her neat little bag is also of this material. She turns for our inspection, and still we can find no pleats. Then she smiles and leaves us.


We adjust our sight in time to see the doors again opening and we watch the model entering the Salon. She is very tall, dark and slim, and she has brought the same colour of spring with her. Now she is nearer and I can tell you more. The mannequin displays an evening frock of tulle, and there is something of the ballet about it. The bodice fits closely, however it is not of satin. The whole dress is of tulle and it touches the ground all round. Perhaps it dips a little at the back but I cannot yet be sure. The skirt is very full, and there must be a great number of yards of material in it. The perfectly-made bodice requires no shoulder straps for support. This lady is wearing her pearls – and they are very large too – in her dark hair. Primroses are carried on the little gold bag, and the mannequin opened this to show us that it contained a very large handkerchief of black chiffon. I was pleased that she dropped something from this handbag, for the gentleman who was waiting to help her into a primrose velvet wrap was thus able to bend down before her. I never saw her shoes, but I suppose they would match her dress in colour, yet be of satin. They could be shoes too of intricate cut and I would like them to be with really high heels. They would look delightful if discovered under the mist of tulle. Did I mention that she had no colour on her face excepting her dark lipstick and gold eye shadow? She may have had gold finger nails too under those black velvet gloves, but we were never given the opportunity of knowing. We watched her partner close the door behind them.


I shall be disappointed if another yellow dress turns up on the third model! Thank goodness we are spared this. The doors have again opened but this time to reveal a

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