11 September 2011

Happy Fashion Week

Ginette Spanier, circa 1960. The Anglo-French Spanier (1904-1988, Mme. Paul-Émile Seidmann) was the directrice of the Paris fashion house Pierre Balmain for more than 25 years, after which she worked for Nina Ricci. This photograph of Spanier—wearing a Balmain evening dress, of course—appears in her memoir "It Isn't All Mink: The Sparkling Autobiography of a Woman of Style" (Random House, 1960). The highly entertaining book was edited by Spanier's lover, British journalist Nancy Spain.

"Why do women want to be chic? Why do women feel like this? Why do they pay attention to their clothes?
"Men say it is to attract men. Women think it is to knock spots off other women. I have my own belief. Women need the sense of security that the griffe gives them. The griffe is the little label that the couture sews into the back of the dress, with the great name (Balenciaga, Balmain) on it.
"I can remember perfectly the first griffe in the first model I had. I bought the model in a sale in Cannes in 1933—a pale-pink evening dress by Worth and a coat that went with it. My dream would have been to wear the dress with the griffe of Worth outside. Indeed, I kept negligently throwing my evening coat on the back of a chair with an organized gesture. The label meant nothing to the man who took me out for the evening. It meant everything to me. It gave me confidence. It said, 'Go in and slay them, Ginette.' It helped me talk to people. It made me walk into a room with shoulders back."

So wrote Jenny Yvonne "Ginette" Spanier in It Isn't All Mink: The Sparkling Autobiography of a Woman of Style (Random House, 1960).