Lovely Patriotic Fashion: Wear a Cornflower on V-E Day in France {Fashion Notes}

Poppy_Blue_Cornflower.jpgBy Chantal-Hélène Wagner

I once bought hair combs in vibrant blues, reds and whites at a Paris antiques market learning from the seller that those dated from the end of WWII when they were produced to fête the end of a long voyage into the night. Then there are those lovely red poppies worn in the UK in principle on Poppy Day. They are sold by the Royal British Legion to raise funds for the armed forces families. Catherine Duchess of Cambridge was offered one in red crystal, the Buckley brooch (you can see it after the jump)...

crystal_poppy_buckley_brooch.jpgRemembrance_day_march.jpegWearing poppies on your lapel is a widely held tradition in the UK. In France, no such sartorial display of floral symbolism. Yet, there is a way.

poilus_figaro.jpgbleuet_france_ad.jpgI not long ago discovered that in France, there is a similar symbol but which is much less popular and well known, the blue cornflower. It is actually more ancient than the poppy but it has gone out of fashion. It symbolizes the end of WWI. "Bleuet" or "cornflower" was the name given to soldiers enrolled from 1917 who had not experienced wearing the red pants of the early uniforms and wore the new blue ones in the "bleue horizon" shade. Yes, it is all very much about fashion.

Two women are behind this idea: Charlotte Malleterre, the daughter of the commander of the Hôtel National des Invalides and Suzanne Leenhardt, both nurses within the institution. They created a workshop in 1925 to allow invalids of war to feel a zest for life once again by creating cornflowers made out of material and selling them.

Calling the Hôtel National des Invalides to ask where to buy them, I was told that they lack volunteers to sell them on the streets in the days leading to the celebration of May 8th or Victory in Europe Day. Otherwise, they would love to be more present. I was told that even tobacco sellers (buralistes) decline carrying the Bleuet de France pins.

Other than on Remembrance Day, volunteers usually raise V-E Day funds from May 2 until May 8, that is tomorrow. Because of this, your best bet is to find them on May 8th near the Arc de Triomphe, where the ceremonies are held. You can also buy them anytime on their site at

cornflower-folding_umbrella.jpgTheir cornflower range is not as developed as the one existing for the poppy symbol. But that simple cornflower flower made out of textile is utterly lovely in its simplicity. There is also a folding umbrella and a mug.

The poppy range is absolutely darling despite symbolizing the blood spilled on the battefields. Poppies also represent the triumph of life over death in their capacity to grow unshackled, like the French cornflowers, both wild. Poppies you can find at


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