Pussy bow

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Pussycat bow blouse designed by Elspeth Champcommunal for Worth London, 1945

A lavallière or pussycat bow is a style of neckwear often associated with women's and girls' blouses and bodices. It takes the form of a bow tied at the neck similar to those tied around the neck of kittens, cats, and the like.[1]

History[edit]

While bows at the neck had been worn since at least the 19th century, the term "pussy cat bow" took hold in the 20th century.

The lavallière in 19th century France[edit]

The lavallière

The lavallière is a type of cravat similar to the bow tie that was popularly worn in the 19th century in France. It is of similar fashion to the bow tie, but has a larger knot and drooping ends. The length of the scarf can be up to 1.60 metres (5.2 ft) long and is knotted in the same way as a bowtie, but forms two falling shells and two free ribbons. The name is associated with the Duchess of La Vallière (mistress of Louis XIV).[2] It was primarily worn by women, artists, students, and intellectuals associated with the political left in 19th century France.

20th century[edit]

In 1934, the St. Petersburg Times offered a pattern for an Anne Adams dress featuring a convertible collar which could be worn in four different ways, including as "an intriguingly feminine pussy cat bow tied high under your chin."[3] In 1947, pussy cat bows were part of the look inspired by Gibson Girls and 1890s fashions created by designers such as Omar Kiam.[4]

Certain western films of the 20th century employed the pussy bow as a clothing accessory for cowboy characters. Jack Lemmon as Frank Harris in the 1958 film, Cowboy, is one such example.

By the 1960s, pussycat bows were a fixture in American fashion having been incorporated by top designers like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.[5][6][7][8]

Bryan Bowers song, The Scotsman references a bow tie that sounds similar to a lavallière.[9]

During the 1980s, the pussycat bow blouse became a key part of Margaret Thatcher's political image after she became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, and became closely linked with her.[10] Thatcher reportedly said she thought bows were "rather softening" and "pretty," and at her funeral in 2013, the then Prime Minister's wife paid tribute by wearing a pussycat bow blouse.[11] The Thatcher look was imitated by other female politicians.[12]

During the 2016 US presidential election, Melania Trump wore a Gucci pussy bow blouse during the second presidential debate. This caused some to question if it was deliberate, coming just two days after her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, was revealed to have used the phrase "grab them by the pussy" in a video clip, which gained widespread attention and condemnation.[13][14][15][16] Ms. Trump wore a pussycat bow when discussing cyberbullying in August 2018, renewing speculation that she was trolling her husband, the president.[17][18]

Feminist symbol[edit]

Meg Whitman, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard, explained in a documentary that women began wearing the lavallière in place of a tie when entering the workforce in the 1960s. In 2018, the lavallière became a feminist fashion symbol in Sweden after Sara Danius was asked to resign from the Swedish Academy for her handling of the aftermath of a sexual assault incident involving Jean-Claude Arnault.[2][19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marian Martin Dress - A Little Woman Style". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 8 November 1934. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b Anne-Françoise Hivert (May 1, 2018). "En Suède, les féministes empruntent le col lavallière". www.lemonde.fr. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  3. ^ "Wear This Frock Four Different Ways: Pattern 1969 by Anne Adams". St. Petersburg Times. 16 December 1934. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Gibson Girl is Back as Fashion Leader". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 10 January 1947. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  5. ^ Bruzzi, Stella (2012). Undressing Cinema: Clothing and identity in the movies. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 9781134770595.
  6. ^ English, Bonnie (2007). A cultural history of fashion in the twentieth century : from the catwalk to the sidewalk (English ed.). Oxford: Berg. p. 38. ISBN 1845203410.
  7. ^ "Saint Laurent Shows Spring Collection". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 3 February 1964. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  8. ^ Noel, Lucie (24 February 1965). "Fashions Feature Linens, Weaves, Silk Prints". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Bryan Bowers - The Scotsman". www.youtube.com. October 26, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Carnegy, Vicky (2007). The 1980s. New York: Infobase Pub. p. 7. ISBN 1438118945.
  11. ^ Carter, Claire (17 April 2013). "Samantha Cameron pays subtle tribute to Margaret Thatcher's sense of style". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  12. ^ Siggins, Lorna (1991). Seamus Deane; Andrew Carpenter; Jonathan Williams (eds.). The Woman Who Took Power in the Park; excerpt reprinted in The Field Day anthology of Irish writing. Derry: Field Day Publ. p. 287. ISBN 9780814799079.
  13. ^ "Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005". Washington Post. October 7, 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  14. ^ "Melania Trump's Blouse Gets Attention". NBC Bay Area. October 10, 2016.
  15. ^ Mazza, Ed (October 10, 2016). "Not A Joke: Melania Trump Wore A 'Pussy Bow' To The Debate". The Huffington Post.
  16. ^ Dowd, Maureen (October 11, 2016). "Solving the Riddle of the Slovenian Sphinx and the Pussy Bow".
  17. ^ Bruni, Frank (August 21, 2018). "Melania Trump Could Be Our Greatest First Lady".
  18. ^ Donnelly, Erin (August 20, 2018). "Is Melania Trump trolling POTUS with her pυssγ-bow blouse and speech on 'destructive' social media behavior?".
  19. ^ Laird Borrelli-Persson (April 18, 2018). "From the U.S. Presidential Race to Sweden's Literature Nobel Prize Organization—The Politicization of the Pussy Bow". www.vogue.com. Retrieved January 1, 2019.