Modern Living: Claude and the Long Look

From the moment French President Georges Pompidou stepped onto the White House lawn, everyone looked downward, not in deference to protocol, but to see what length skirt his wife was wearing. For the rest of the week, even in politically oriented Washington, much of the conversation about the state visit centered on Mme. Pompidou's hemlines (she changed as often as four times a day), most of which came to within six inches of the ground.

Mme. Pompidou arrived at a crucial time for the U.S. fashion world, which is in the midst of a battle over hemline height for 1970. Her attire...

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