Cigarettes seemed to have been an ever-present prop of the fascist fashionista. 1931 even saw the premier of the Vallaguzza belt, an accessory for beach life that kept your cigarettes dry in a “lacquered clasp-container” that “attached at the waist with a soft woollen belt that matched the colour of your swimsuit.”
Military-inspired chic: the influence of the regime was obvious in much 1930s fashion. As one magazine commented, “the cape is generally inspired by the officer’s rounded cloak, and the decorations often recall braid, loop fastenings and buttons.”
Everything from cinema to silk came with a spirit of nationalism. The Italian diva Isa Miranda models “very Italian” dresses in a series of 1935 pictures intended to prove the tautological idea that “Italian elegance is most suitable because it’s the best.”
“Sartorial techniques insist on the beauty of a geometrically measurable body.” Fascists did too, breaking the body into fragments in search of an ideal. Here, a chart of movie star glances aims to sum up the beauty of the eye.
The fascist drive toward efficiency led to designs like “The Plastes Apparatus” pictured here. “Why,” asked one Milanese tailor, “do the creators of the first social aesthetic . . . still insist on using only a tape measure and embracing the client’s body, a method that is a hundred years old?”