2014, a year of anniversaries – the D Day landings, the outbreak of the First World War – nostalgia is al the rage. I’ve spent part of the weekend, foraging in my large collection of French magazine adverts. I’ve got over a thousand of them dating from 1909 up to the early fifties. Here are select of ads dating from WW1 – all originals. They are ads for a major Paris department store of the time – La Belle Jardinière – a Parisian shopping institution from 1824 until it’s closure in 1972. Situated on the Ile de la Cité, near the Pont Neuf, the building now houses the Paris offices of Louis Vuitton.

So, the ads mostly officers’ uniforms – the artwork is almost art in its own right with some ads even depicting  idealised versions of life at the front. This was he time when officers had heir uniforms taylor-made. Elegance was paramount, but it all seems just little futile now, when you think of the massacres at Verdun or on the Somme and you know that the average lifespan of a young lieutenant or captain on the Western Front was more or less three weeks.  The following ads date from 1915 to 1917.

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