A writer named Kay Harwell Fernandez contacted me about finding a costume historian to advise her on a novel set in World War II. She asked help in finding someone with whom she could discuss American and French fashions between 1939 and 1947. I’m not sure what her novel’s plot is, but if you, like me, get frustrated reading novels which get the fashion details wrong — well, here’s our chance to help someone who wants to get them right.
Kay Harwell Fernandez wrote,
“Question, please. I am in the process of writing a novel set around WWII with locations in the U.S. and France. Could you suggest a fashion historian who I could either speak to or email questions about fashion, especially women’s fashion and designers, from 1939 to 1947?
“Thank you so much for any help you can provide.
“Kind regards, Kay”
I certainly love the title of one of her ebooks: It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Luggage: Tips for Older Women Traveling Abroad
My copy of the American Vogue from August, 1943 is full of reminders that the war affected every aspect of daily life — not to mention advertising campaigns.
In the Butterick Fashion News flyer, robes and pajamas remind us that a nighttime curfew was imposed in coastal cities, to prevent city lights from providing bombing targets and silhouetting ships.
Here is Kay’s contact and professional information:
Kay Harwell Fernandez
Writer, Editor, Author
Member SATW, ASJA, FFWA, MWA, SiNC
Twitter @KayIsAWriter and @chocolatetravel
Professional profile on LinkedIn and Facebook
Author: It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Luggage: Tips for Older Women Traveling Abroad
Author: Have Chocolate, Will Travel – An Enticing Journey to All Things Chocolate
I answered Kay’s email like this, but left out many ideas:
“Gee, I’m out of the loop when it comes to knowing fashion historians personally. My first thought was the Costume Society of America, because their journal, Dress, has years worth of articles on very specific aspects of history — if you find a useful article, you might contact the author. There are also historical recreation groups and military museums focused on WW II in Europe and the US; some re-enactors have an amazing depth of knowledge. The trouble with fashion magazines like Vogue (and its European editions and competitors) is that they try to lead fashion, rather than reporting what normal people wear; news magazines like Life are more likely to show daily life of civilians. Finding out who were the most well-known French and American fashion designers in that period isn’t hard, and then you can locate autobiographies, like Fashion Is Spinach, by American designer Elizabeth Hawes. And, luckily, many women who lived through this period as children and teens have active memories or have written about their lives…. (e.g., Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, and her sisters Nancy and Pamela Mitford. A fourth Mitford sister was pro-Germany. Very sad story.)
The blog and Youtube site Glamourdaze is worth a visit; it often shows short film clips of fashions and makeup, made in the period (there’s a World War II page) : http://glamourdaze.com/
I’ll ask for better suggestions from readers, too. (We always cringe when an author gets something wrong, so we ought to be willing to help.)”
So, I am asking if any readers can make more suggestions of sources and contacts for Kay. If you are willing to be her advisor, contact her through her Facebook or Linked-in; if you have suggestions about sources, books, etc., please use the comments section so we can all benefit! Thanks!