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Fashion and the femmes tondues: Lee Miller, Vogue and representing liberation France

Gorrara, Claire ORCID: 2018. Fashion and the femmes tondues: Lee Miller, Vogue and representing liberation France. French Cultural Studies 29 (4) , pp. 330-344. 10.1177/0957155818791889

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This article will examine representations of the Liberation of France in the war reports of Lee Miller, an accredited photographer and correspondent for American and British Vogue during the Second World War. Miller’s frontline reports framed Liberation France in idealised images of feminine beauty and elegance, making use of fashion as a primary conduit for understanding the war and occupation for readers on the home front. As this article will argue, examining Miller’s choices and perspective as a female photographer sheds new light on the intersection of fashion, war photography and the female body. In Miller’s work, fashion becomes a site for imagining liberation in ways that foreground the gendering of war experience and the legacies of conflict for women. By charting Miller’s representations of French women at the Liberation, and above all the chastised figure of the femme tondue, this article will analyse how French women function as carriers of multiple messages about war, liberation and reconstruction in Miller’s work. Unlike the sensationalist images of the femmes tondues published in the British picture press and newspapers in the summer of 1944, Miller’s war reports in Vogue construct an empathic relationship with such underprivileged female subjects. Miller’s work opens a space, therefore, for speculation on the role of fashion in shaping how the Second World War was understood by a first generation of female memory producers and consumers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0957-1558
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 July 2018
Date of Acceptance: 11 July 2018
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 14:34

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