I agree with you - the garments of the 40's have a unique charm. So many world-changing events in a short space of time - your point about creativity in the midst of restraint is interesting. Just as an aside, does it feel a little frivolous to enjoy the clothing of a war-era? It's something I think about...I instantly knew what Anita meant: it's kind of strange to look back, from a position of comfort and luxury, to a time that was so incredibly dark and to want to co-opt it. And just think about how we talk about the era. We praise the glamour, the fabulous styles, the lovely hair and makeup. But pick up any book about wartime fashion and it's impossible to avoid the treacherous undercurrents: you can only imagine the type of environment in which women were wearing siren suits and Red Cross volunteer uniforms. (Side note: here's a great web resource on wartime fashion.)
But ultimately, I think embracing the fashion values of the 40s can only be cause for celebration: after all, so much of the modern craft movement parallels the ideal of "make do and mend." And in some ways, it's easy to find similarities between the 40s and today: as my husband aptly put it, both eras are marked by "a confluence of events that make us all feel like the world is going to hell." And it can't be avoided (as much as we might try), that in my country it currently IS a wartime. I actually think we would do quite well to strive to imitate the ideals of the 40s. I mean, what's really frivolous is the fact that the U.S. is fighting two wars and dealing with major economic and environmental crises, yet we act like everything (fashion and otherwise) is business as usual.
So yes, I do find it a bit frivolous when a designer like Diane Von Furstenburg takes inspiration from 40s wartime fashion and turns it into a $600 dress. But to take the inspiration and to follow in the footsteps of the women of the 40s - to do it ourselves - well, that must be the opposite of frivolous, right? Not that sewing your own clothing today makes one a saint and automatically immune to the evils of careless consumption (just look at my fabric stash and shoe collection, for goodness sakes). But it's a start.
Those are my thoughts for now, but I know this is an a topic that I'll continue to ponder. So many thanks to Anita for bringing it up.
Now, let's hear from you please!