In wartime years the "Make Do And Mend" attitude even extended to underpinnings! Read on for the story of our 1940s Map Print Lingerie
It was MI9 British Intelligence Officer Clayton Hutton who came up with the idea of printing escape maps on silk during the Second World War. ‘Clutty’ (a well-known eccentric) made a case for the necessity of standard-issue ‘Escape & Evade’ maps by persuading the British Museum to dig up their collection of true First World War escape stories, and then recruiting the pupils of Rugby School to comb these tales for evidence. The result? There wasn’t a story to be found where maps didn’t play a part in the successful escapes - cartography was key!
The first question then, was how to design military maps so they would still be of use once their owner was in a state to required their services.
Printed with waterproof ink, silk maps didn’t rustle, tear or take up too much room, remained useful after immersion in water or exposure to heat and smoke, and could also be hidden in the lining of a jacket, the hollowed out heel of a boot, or even inside the pieces of board games or be smuggled into POW camps. While rationing was on, silk remained an incredible luxury. In order to produce these maps, Clutty commandeered a roll of parachute silk with a little help from a case of illicit jam. Silk was in very short supply for clothing during rationing years, and as a result the used parachute silk often found its way back into the hands of thrifty ladies
who turned it into dresses, blouses and undergarments!
"Silk was in very short supply for clothing during rationing years; used parachute silk found its way back into the hands of thrifty ladies who turned it into clothing!"
"We’ve designed our new 1940s Map Print Lingerie in homage to the austerity-luxury sets of the Second World War."
Possibly the most famous example is a set of silk lingerie on display at the Imperial War Museum, made from charts of Italy which originally belonged to the Countess Mountbatten and was made from a silk escape and evade map given to her by an RAF boyfriend. More recently in 2016, a whole dress made of silk maps dating from 1945-50 was put up for sale in Harrogate where it was snapped up by an eagle-eyed escape and evade aficionado!
If you’re eyeing up your own set of Escape & Evade scanties, you’ve come to the right place! The problem with true vintage lingerie is that it’s usually not the right size or shape for the modern figure, or has perished.
Silk maps themselves are becoming scarcer and scarcer (so do snap them up if you find them!) However, recreated in luxurious satin, we’ve designed our new 1940s Map Print Lingerie in homage to the austerity-luxury sets of the Second World War. Using updated patterns to fit and flatter the modern figure, we’ve designed a stunning soft cup cone bra, a Forties-inspired suspender belt and a choice of two knicker styles so you can now indulge your whim for luxuriously unconventional lingerie in absolute comfort and style!