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London Museum examines creativity born from WWII rationing

London Museum examines creativity born from WWII rationing
By Euronews

<p>Seventy years ago, the people of Britain swarmed Buckingham Palace, the Mall and Trafalgar Square carrying British flags and jubilant smiles to celebrate the end of the war. </p> <p>But hardship was not over as the country started to rebuild after the war. </p> <p>First introduced at the start of the conflict, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing_in_the_United_Kingdom">rationing</a> affected everyday life, including <a href="http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/8-facts-about-clothes-rationing-in-britain-during-the-second-world-war">clothing</a>. </p> <p>Necessity, the saying goes, is the mother of invention. </p> <p>Now, the Imperial War Museum in London is looking at how fashion survived and even flourished under the strict rules of rationing in 1940’s Britain, often in new and unexpected ways.</p> <p>“By 1941, the government takes the decision to introduce clothes rationing to a population which is already used to food rationing, for example. This now means that people cannot buy more than, roughly-speaking, one new outfit a year. It drastically reduces the choice that people have in terms of the new clothing that they can buy,” says curator Laura Clouting. </p> <p>Government-backed schemes like <a href="http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/10-top-tips-for-winning-at-make-do-and-mend">‘Make Do and Mend’</a> were introduced to encourage people to revive and repair worn-out clothes. </p> <p>Creativity was also applied to cosmetics – women were encouraged not to let ‘standards’ slip amid concerns that a lack of interest in personal appearance could be a sign of low morale. Buttons, pockets and pleats were all limited, turn-ups were banned on men’s clothes. And accessories like jewelry, for example, were made with scraps of windscreen plastic from factories. </p> <p>“I think what you see in wartime is a new trend which is very much determined by the war itself and that is for paired-down, simple styles which are very neat, kind of tidy-looking. And which of course endure today as that classic 1940’s look,” explains Laura Clouting.</p> <p>While London crowds rejoiced, VE Day was in no way an end to hostilities or hardship.</p> <p>War against Japan didn’t end until August 1945, clothes rationing continued until 1949 and food rationing until 1954.</p> <p><a href="http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-london/fashion-on-the-ration">‘Fashion on the ration’</a> runs at the Imperial War Museum in London until the end of August.</p>