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10 little-known facts about how the Nazis influenced world fashion
10 little-known facts about how the Nazis influenced world fashion
Coco Chanel and the Nazis

The Third Reich left a deep mark in history. The biggest war this planet has ever seen, genocide on an unprecedented scale. And still few people know that it was the Fuhrer and his henchmen who made large-scale changes in the world of fashion. It was at that time that brands that are popular today and new fashion trends appeared.

1. Style is above all

The Nazis, who were the embodiment of evil in this world, were well versed in fashion. Reich Chancellor and Reich Minister of Education and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels knew almost everything about fashion and style. He was confident that looking sloppy and tired would not strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. And the ideal form, tailored to make a soldier appear tall, broad-shouldered, and imposing, can have a profound effect.

Ideal shape comes first

Goebbels was an adherent of precision, especially when it came to fashion. Rumor has it that he had hundreds of suits so that the minister never had to wear the same thing twice in a year. Unsurprisingly, Goebbels instilled in the Nazis that style was paramount. Never before have military aggression and fashion been so closely linked. And it had a big impact on fashion.

2. Uniform associated with "evil"

Evil incarnate uniforms

Since its inception in the 1930s, the Nazi uniform has served as the benchmark for evil costume design. Given the scale of the crime and the staggering level of atrocities exhibited by the Nazis, it is not surprising that in modern fiction, villains are often stylized to resemble the "Nazi" look. Take, for example, the Imperials in Star Wars. In the style of their form, it is easy to recognize the fighter of the Third Reich. George Lucas later admitted: “In the first film, we used Nazi uniforms to create the appearance of the Empire's soldiers. This was done to make the soldiers appear very authoritarian on the outside."

3. Chanel

When the Nazis launched their invasion of Europe, Gabrielle Boner Chanel, better known by her nickname "Coco", was already a well-established and respected fashion designer. She became famous for her iconic "little black dress", but became a real celebrity thanks to the Nazi occupation of France.

Coco Chanel

Chanel decided to accept Nazi rule. She became the mistress of the German embassy attaché Hans Gunther von Dinklage and began spying for the Third Reich, helping with recruiting. When the war ended, they did not pursue Coco, but elevated her to the rank of the leading fashion designer of the time. And she wasted no time and was building her fashionable empire. It may seem strange, but rumors about her connection with the Nazis became a significant impetus for the promotion of the brand and gave it a veil of mysticism and invulnerability.

4. Mustache brush

It sounds ridiculous now, but people once loved brush mustaches. If they did not become associated with Adolf Hitler, then maybe this style of mustache would still be popular today. Actors Oliver Hardy and Charlie Chaplin (some of the most famous stars at the time) proudly wore such a mustache and inspired people around the world to follow their example.

Those same mustache with a brush

However, it was not Chaplin who influenced Hitler to make himself such a mustache. It is a myth. Initially, Hitler wore a mustache for a long time in the popular "bicycle handlebar" style. But during the First World War, this prevented him from putting on a gas mask. So he pruned them and then left them that way.

5. Hugo Boss

It has already been described how Joseph Goebbels made sure that the Nazi officers always looked "like a needle."Unsurprisingly, he was the one who oversaw the design and production of uniforms for the most fearsome of all Nazi military units, the Schutzstaffel (better known as the "SS"). One glance at the black uniform and the ominous skull on the cap was enough to cause terror.

Fashion collection from Hugo Boss

Black is historically considered an evil color, and the skull is associated with death. Goebbels commissioned Munich-based clothing manufacturer Hugo Boss to create a uniform for the SS. At that time, Boss was already producing the infamous "brown shirts" (worn by the "assault squads" Sturmabteilung, the paramilitary wing of the NSDAP). Of course, when high-ranking Nazis order something to be done, people do it. So it's hard to blame the Boss for anything, even though he ran a production line that used forced labor.

6. Dior

Even when his sister was in the French Resistance and was captured by the Gestapo, fashion designer Christian Dior kept his nose to the wind and worked with the Nazis, often making dresses and outfits for the wives of high-ranking officers. Some considered him a traitor and a puppet of the Germans. And he claimed that he was doing everything possible to save French fashion.

Christian Dior is a legendary fashion designer and Nazi collaborator

Before World War II, Dior worked as a designer for a respected fashion house run by Lucien Lelong. But the experience of the Nazi occupation of France and his new mission to preserve France as the capital of world fashion prompted Dior to create his own fashion house that became world famous.

7. Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton bags

Louis Vuitton bags are some of the most iconic and famous on the planet. When the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and the Vichy regime ruled the country, most brands closed their stores. But Louis Vuitton flourished throughout the occupation and war. In fact, it was the only brand allowed to have a store on the ground floor of the Hotel du Parc, which housed the puppet government of France in the early 1940s. The French brand received preferences by openly collaborating with the Nazis. While competitors either abandoned the deal, went into hiding, or went out of business, Louis Vuitton stayed afloat. After the war, the brand completely controlled the market.

8. Anti-subcultures

The main motive of the Nazi regime was the swastika. Surely, many people know that this symbol was once an ancient and sacred symbol of the world, until Hitler and his thugs began to use it. Thanks to this "redesign", today the swastika is used by people who just want to shock the audience. Biker gangs of the 1960s and 70s used SS-style swastikas, iron crosses, and zippers as insignia on their clothing.

Subcultures of the 1960s

Artists have borrowed iconography from the Nazis since the end of the war. And let's not forget the proliferation of the swastika and other Nazi symbols as punk rock became popular in the late 1970s. Bikers and punk rockers used images of neo-Nazism mainly to shock and insult. It was already a kind of "art through provocation."

9. Asian pop culture

Sitting at a cocktail in an Indonesian cafe, watching Japanese girls sing or attending a school parade in Taiwan, you can find something truly disturbing - open and unabashed Nazi imagery. By the way, all these examples are real. Back in 2013, widespread controversy forced the owner of a Nazi-themed Indonesian cafe to close his establishment in Java. Sony had to issue a public apology in 2016 after one of the performances of a popular band called Keyakizaka46, who held a concert dressed in the uniform of SS officers.

Representatives of Asian pop culture

Hsinchu Kuan Fu High School in Hsinchu City, Taipei, has managed to stage and conduct a jubilee parade dedicated to Adolf Hitler. In schools in Asia, they mainly talk about the hostilities of World War II that took place in Europe. The broader context and in particular the horrors of the Holocaust are rarely mentioned.Thus, an entire generation of children in Asia is growing up without knowing what the Nazis were doing in Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The true tragedy of events may not be known to many young Asians, but clothing, insignia and symbols have somehow evolved into modern culture.

10. The end of women's fashion "under the boy"

Germany was a leading player in the European fashion market in the 1920s. Before the Nazis, Berlin and Munich were centers of design and luxury clothing. But when Hitler came to power, he tried to change the national image of the German woman. The Fuehrer preferred women to dress sensibly and candidly. His argument was that a German woman should "shine" with true Aryan beauty, and she didn't need makeup, nail polish or elaborate dresses.

A true Aryan

The dictator believed that the Nazi-controlled fashion industry would help Germany win the war. To this end, the Nazis created the Deutsches Modeamt ("Reich Fashion Bureau") to control the way German women dress. According to Bureau rules, women were only allowed to wear German clothing made from German materials.

The fashionable style of that time promoted by designers (for example, Nazi-loyal Coco Chanel) was more "boyish". This meant shorter hair and clothing that made women look slimmer. But Hitler loved curvy women, believing that they were able to give birth to more real Aryans. His ideal of beauty was a full bust, beautiful legs and curvaceous figures. And this idea was promoted by the Reich Fashion Bureau. Hitler got what he wanted. This is how the boy-like fashion style disappeared.

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