MARCH 4, 1943
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I have just been a to a luncheon given by the newly organized Fashion Group Inc., down here. This is a branch of the original Fashion Group Inc., New York City, and I think it ought to be very valuable to all the other groups in the country, particularly during the war period.
Fashions include not clothes and shoes and cosmetics alone, though these are essentials to turning out a well groomed man or woman. Fashions also include the things that go into a design for living, such as home furnishings, draperies, rugs, art, anything which has to do with beauty and comfort in the arrangement of a home.
The fashion group includes editors, writers, advertisers, as well as designers, producers and artists. It is an interesting audience to talk to, because the faces before you reflect the thinking which is going on in the various people's minds.
Sometime I think I would like to write on the obligations of an audience to a speaker. There is no question about it—an audience can be to some extent the master of its own fate. I am sure many a speaker is rendered dull and uninteresting when he sees expressionless faces with eyes that look like those of a dead fish. He is spurred on to thought and expression when people before him show that they are being stimulated and are doing some thinking of their own.
I was entitled years ago to membership in the Fashion Group because I helped a friend in an experiment in furniture making in a rural factory. As far as her production went, she was highly successful. The furniture she produced was excellent in quality, but part of the experiment proved to be impractical. We had hoped to use boys who worked on the neighboring farms to work in the shop during the winter, but we found that, having learned a trade, they rarely wanted to go back to farm work.
I imagine the European system whereby handwork is largely done in the homes as an avocation is, probably, the only way in which one can foster any industries in rural areas. A woman can do her housework, and in her leisure hours sit before her door and make lace. She can weave at her own loom. A man may develop some particular hobby, which he carries on in his own home.
As a skilled worker, he may do considerable gardening with the aid of his wife and children, keep some animals to increase his food supply. If he is a farmer, he may leave the farm during the slack periods and do an unskilled job and be glad to return to the farm. But, if he acquires a high degree of skill, he is apt to want to go on in the occupation which probably gives him more creative satisfaction and, incidentally, more pay.