French Fashion Magazines: Le petit écho de la mode

Figure 1.--This advertisement for romper patternsd appeared in the December 1947 issue of "Le petit écho de la mode". The caption read, "Les petits garçons modèles," or the little model boys. Note the large back bows for the one-piece suits. The patterns were made in sizes for boys 2-7 years.

The Magazine

HBC is just beginning its assesment of French fashion magazines. We do not yet have detailed information on these magazines, including L'écho de la mode. We know that the magazine was published in the 1930s, but do no know when it began. We know this December, 1949 article shows that it was published in the 1940s and presumably the 1950s. We have noted an item from Le petit écho de la mode advertising dressy romper patterns for "garçons modèles". The title of the magazine was changed after World War II. A French reader reports that Le petit écho de la mode was a very popular magazine read for the average French mother. It was not a high society fashion magazine. To day this magasine still exist on the title " Echo de la mode" A HBC reader reports that as a child he and his brother were used as models for this and other French fashion magazines.


We have noted that rompers are one of the outfits used for what the French call "garçons modèles" or particularly well behave and dressed boys. One French reader stresses that this concept of a beautifully behaved and dressed boy was partticularly prevalent for French mothers in the 1940s and 50s. Perhaps the disaster of World War II caused mothers to treat their children even more carefully and mother them more than in past generations. Thus fashions for boys emphasizing their innonsence and youth were very popular. Perhaps the most popular garment for such boys during this period was the romper. All kinds of rompers might be worn, including both one-piece suits and suspender and button-on romper bottoms. The one-pice rompers might have especially long waise sashes that could be ties in big bows in the back. The one-piece romper was seen as suitable for the younger boy and the suspender or button-on romper bottoms as more appropriate for the older boy. In earlier generations boys were dressed in other fancy outfits and were a particularly popular sunject on French postcards. We do not know if the term "garçons modèles" was then in term. Along with rompers boy might wear smocked blouses with puff sleeves, white kneesocks, strap shoes, and white gloves.


The Title is "Les petits garçons modèles" or "The little model boys". Here is the French text on this page. I have tried to translate the text, but do not understand some of the passages.

205290: "Le devant et le dos de cette barboteuse en popeline, travaillés de smocks, se montent dans un empiècement droit. Culotte bouffante rapportée, taillée en biais, (2 à 4 ans. 1 m 65 en 100)" This means something like: "The front and back of this smocked poplin romper have a plain yoke (without any or only limited smocking and often without embroidery). Romper pants (puffed shorts) made of the fabric as the top (1-piece suit) , cut in bias, (2-4 years. 1 meter 65 in 100)." This is the pink romper suit pictured to the right.

206285: Petit ensemble composé d'un bloomer en lainage, fixé en plis souples dans une ceinture retenue par des bretelles, et d'une blouse en toile de soie garnie de smocks repris dans un empiècement. (5 à 7 ans; Bloomer : 1 m 05 en 120 . Blouse: 1 m; 05 en 100.)" This means something like: "Small ensemble (set) composed of woolen bloomer pants, fixed with supple pleats in a belt supported by suspenders, and a silk [canvas?] blouse adorned with smocking below the yoke (empiècement). (5 to 7 years, Bloomer : 1.05 meters in 120. Blouse: 1.05m in 100.)" This is the blue supender romper suit worn with a blouse. A French reader points out that a complete ensemble (outfit) sometimes include shoes/sandals, socks, glothes, caps, ect.

200286: En flanelle souple, cette barboteuse se monte dans un empiècement appliqué, dos et devant, sur un motif de smocks . Ceinture nouée au dos (5 à 7 ans. 2 m. en 90.). This means something like, "In supple flanel, this romper suit is executed in an applied yoke back and front over smocking work. Tied up waist straps in the back. (5 to 7 years 2 meters in 90.)" A HBC reader tells us that this style was very commun. His parents who had a clothing factory made large numbers of this romper style. It was back and crotch buttoning. I belierve that this is the blue one-piece romper suit pictured to the right. The age range of 5-7 years appars somewhat old for a one-piece suit.

Sewing Instructions

HBC was not sure what all the numbers meant in the text. Of course "ans" means years and that was the age for which the pattens were availanle. The other numbers referred to the amount of cloth needed to sew the garment. The first romper suit, for example, required material 1 m 65 en 100 or a length of material 1 meter (m) wide and 1.65 m long. HBC was confused about what is meant by "en 100", "en 120", and "en 90". Our French contributor tells us that material is sold in rolls that are 0.8, 1.0, and 1.20 meters wide. I had thought that most fabric was a strandard 1.0 meters wide.


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Created: October 24, 2001
Last updated: 7:18 PM 9/23/2008