Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dazzle Balls and Cricketeers

Cartoon by Tom Cottrell in Punch (1919)
Above In early 1919, with the end of the Great War at hand, increased coverage was allowed of the wartime use of dazzle-painting for ship camouflage. Dazzle patterns became immensely popular, particularly in women's bathing attire, and costume party outfits. In this cartoon by Tom Cottrell from the British magazine Punch (January 22, 1919, p. 59), it was suggested that a "brighter cricket" might result from the adoption of dazzle-painted sports uniforms.


In the winter of 1917, US Army camoufleurs held a Camoufleurs' Ball at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, an event that was attended by President Woodrow Wilson. On March 12, 1919 (as featured in an earlier post) the Chelsea Arts Club held a colorful costume party, called a Dazzle Ball, on March 12, 1919, at Royal Albert Hall in London. A comparable celebration, also called a Dazzle Ball, took place seven months later in Sydney AU, on the night of October 7, 1919. The Sydney event, the purpose of which was a fundraiser for the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, was glowingly reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on the following day, October 8, 1919, in DAZZLE BALL: A WONDERFUL SCENE IN TOWN HALL. Here are two excerpts—

Dazzle Ball! It was indeed. The like of it has never been seen in Sydney before. It was a riotous profusion, a bewildering confusion, of whirling life and color, a wonderful picture that shimmered and glistened wherever you looked. The floor, reflecting the whirling feet and costumes of a thousand hues as in a mirror, was thronged…

The ball was a dazzling mass of color even without the dancers and the beautiful fancy sets. The whole of the balustrading and the pillars were blotted out with drapings camouflaged in all colors of the rainbow, arranged not to give harmonious effects, but just the reverse—to give out a great riotous jumble of colors to make it all look bizarre. Take the mind back to any one of the strangest-looking of the camouflaged ships that came into the harbor during the war, try to conceive of an even more extraordinary jumble of colors, and you have an idea of the setting for the Dazzle Ball…