1940's Hawaiian styles and Lauren Bacall

Audree Gay Creations, California, c. late 1930's through 1940's

I saw the Alfred Shaheen exhibit of Hawaiian fashions recently and it brought to mind this sultry gown in an aloha print fabric. The fashion styling blends a bit of Pacific sarong skirt with a mainland cowl neck top. A flash of midriff is seen between the skirt and cropped top that is held in place by the insertion of a center front tab, attaching the skirt to bodice. This cocktail or evening style would have been a sensation on the dance floor of the WWII era ball room or private patio party.

It is made from a fine navy blue rayon crepe with white floral design, to immitate the better Japanese kabe crepe that was first imported and later inspired the Hawaiian tropicals of the 1930's and 1940's pre-war years.

To Have and Have Not,1944, Lauren Bacall, designer Milo Anderson (1910-1984)

The aloha print rayon dress is similar to a sleek version of the same style by Milo Anderson for Lauren Bacall in 1944. Her sarong skirt and midriff top are linked (literally) by a metal ring: a style that would take fire in the 1970's. Her top is more artfully custom draped, but the overall sense of style is still the same: bared midriff with a tropical front draped skirt.

It is interesting that this flattering style is so seldom seen in fashion. The concept is a perfect example of 'less is more' when it comes to body exposure!

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