FRANCE: The Popular Strike

Every August, Parisian haute couture stages a style show dedicated to extolling the wares of Schiaparelli, Fath and Dior, and extracting the dollars of Saks, Filene's and Neiman-Marcus. This year, however, the show almost flopped before it started.

American buyers last week thronged thirstily around the bars at the Ritz and Crillon, gossiped knowingly of new, narrowed skirts, shorter day dresses and a new emphasis on black, green and yellow. Then, five days before the show, 12,000 of Paris' 20,000 midinettes* laid down their needles and flounced out on what was probably France's most popular strike of the year.

The midinettes,...

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