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Fashion archive, 1948: A street of deadly sins in Paris

The most crowded street in Paris this week has been the Faubourg St Honoré, whose shopkeepers are holding a competition in window-dressing of which the theme must be one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins. The pavements are only clear before such buildings as the Palace of the Elysée and the British Embassy, since neither M. Vincent Auriol nor Sir Oliver Harvey is competing.

The biggest success is a Sleeping Beauty (accompanied by sleeping king, queen, courtiers, scullions and guards), exemplifying Sloth, that occupies the whole shop-window of a dealer in curios. On either side of the shop parents with children piled on their shoulders, not to mention unaccompanied adults, completely block the pavement in the hope of getting near some time, while, to their and the motorists’ annoyance, light-footed and wary gatecrashers only too often slip in front of them from the roadway when part of the crowd that has got to the window regretfully breaks away.

The Display in Detail
Glovers have concentrated on Avarice – beautifully gloved hands reaching for piles of gold. The leather shop at the corner of the Rue Boissy d’Anglas which has so long distinguished itself for window-dressing, and which never forgets that it began as a saddlers, has illustrated all the Seven Sins with Houyhnhnms sinking sadly into Yahoodom under the influence of the Yahoos’ clothes that they are wearing. A wool shop illustrates Sloth by a charming drawing of a girl with folded hands placed in a many coloured jungle of unwound skeins of wool, while a haberdasher, choosing the same theme, shows the protruding legs of a young gentleman asleep on a sofa, while the floor and chairs are scattered with socks, ties, and shirts he is too lazy to put away. Lust is a charming Leda (wearing a transparent nylon cape) with her swan.

The theme Greed has brought together wonderful collections of old plates painted with fruit and other good things to eat of pears, pineapples, salmons and lobsters in porcelain or wax. The best window of all is perhaps that of a shoe shop showing Cinderella’s abandoned shoe on the royal staircase, and the long rows of busts that flanked the august descent, pale, as Perrault declared them to be, with Jealousy of the beauty they had just seen pass them.

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