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By the fall of 1944, not long after the Allies had routed German forces from Paris and while the post-Normandy push eastward toward Berlin rolled on, it was clear to anyone and everyone that the end of the Second World War—in Europe, at least—was truly, finally in sight. In its Oct. 16, 1944, issue, meanwhile, TIME magazine put some of this good news in perspective with a look at the fall fashion shows taking place in newly liberated Paris—shows that illustrated both the centrality of style to the Gallic way of life, and the deprivations that designers and their customers were forced to endure at a time when, after all, the continent was still at war.
LIFE’s Bob Landry—who had covered the war in North Africa as well as in other parts of Europe—was in Paris when it was liberated in late August, and he stayed on to report on and photograph stories in the giddy, post-liberation capital.
LIFE never ran the pictures that Landry made of the French fall fashions, but some of them did end up in the aforementioned issue of TIME. Here, as Fashion Week in New York kicks off seven long decades later, we take a look back at that heady time—and at the remarkable styles that emerged from the international capital of fashion in the midst of a world war.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.