Speaker: Anne Sebba
5 September 2017

What did it feel like to be a woman living in Paris from 1939-1949? These were years of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation and secrets until-finally- renewal and retribution. Even at the darkest moments of Occupation, with the Swastika flying from the Eiffel Tower and pet dogs abandoned howling on the streets, glamour was ever present. French women wore lipstick. Why?

Les Parisiennes is a story about women’s lives during the dark years of Nazi occupation and beyond and includes British and American women caught in Paris as well as native born resisters who were eventually sent to camps They included couturiers and jewelers some of whom flourished in wartime as well as actors, singers, night club dancers and housewives.

The lecture opens with a magnificent circus ball held by Elsie de Wolfe at the magnificent Villa Trianon, a chateau in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Many of the guests could not believe that war was imminent. The lecture ends with Christian Dior’s lavish new look in 1947 as well as a perfume, Miss Dior, named after his sister Catherine, a member of the resistance, who had only just survived a prison camp and never wanted to talk about her experiences.

Anne Sebba is a journalist at heart but she is also a biographer, historian and author. She has written nine non fiction books, mostly biographies of powerful women with a strong historical context, including “That Woman” (Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor), Jennie Churchill and Mother Teresa.